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The purpose of OSHA's Hazard Communication, or HAZCOM, rule is to ensure that hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are evaluated and that information concerning these hazards is conveyed to employers and employees. The information is conveyed by means of comprehensive hazard communication programs, which include container labeling and other forms of warning, safety data sheets and employee training.
The 29 CFR 1910.1200 HAZCOM standard has been updated to align with the U.N. Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This rule became effective May 25, 2012.
HAZCOM 2012 (GHS)
What Is the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)?
The GHS is an acronym for the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The GHS is a system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of chemicals. It is a logical and comprehensive approach to:
Defining health, physical and environmental hazards of chemicals
Creating classification processes that use available data on chemicals for comparison with the defined hazard criteria
Communicating hazard information, as well as protective measures, on labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
GHS does not affect Department of Transportation (DOT) placards for shipping
How Will GHS Affect My Company?
Overall, the current roles and responsibilities for suppliers, employers and workers will not significantly change in the 29 CFR 1910.1200 HAZCOM standard after GHS implementation. HAZCOM 2012 has several important compliance dates.
Classification is the starting point for hazard communication. The GHS is designed to be consistent and transparent. While not given a formal definition, GHS divides hazards into three major hazard groups - health, physical, and environmental.
The HAZCOM 2012 pictograms were developed as a standard set of warning symbols to convey health, physical and environmental hazard information, assigned to a GHS hazard class and category. These pictograms will appear on all container labels.
The GHS standard will become a requirement and replace current labeling systems. The employer must ensure all containers contain the correct labeling information. This includes HAZCOM 2012 labels for original containers received from vendors and secondary containers. Information regarding the hazards and directions of the material for use is not to be defaced (i.e., fade, get washed off) or removed in any way. The employer must re-label items if the labels are removed or defaced.
Safety Data Sheets
All HAZCOM 2012 compliant Safety Data Sheets (SDS) will be presented in a standardized 16-section format and provide additional information including ecological, disposal, transport and regulatory information. One of the key challenges will be working with your vendors to update your SDS inventory by June 1, 2015.
OSHA has stated that employers will be required to train employees by December 1, 2013, on the following:
Written HAZCOM programs will also need updating to include changes to labeling, SDS communication, and employee training. Training employees and updating the written program should occur as soon as your organization begins its GHS transition.
State Plan Information
Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these states adopt standards that are identical to federal OSHA standards. However, some states have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or have different enforcement policies.
NOTICE! This webpage outlines employer and employee responsibilities under OSHA’s HAZCOM 2012 standard. It is intended to cover only the updated 2012 “GHS” additional requirements and does notcover the necessary training required by the original OSHA HAZCOM Standard 1910.1200.