Hazard communication symbols

HAZCOM Toolkit



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.


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?

Employers must continue to:

  • Follow the 29 CFR 1910.1200 HAZCOM standard
  • Educate and train workers on the hazards and safe use of products
  • Ensure that hazardous materials are properly labeled
  • Prepare workplace labels and SDSs as necessary
  • Provide workers access to up-to-date SDSs
  • Ensure appropriate control measures are in place to protect the health and safety of workers

Workers will still:

  • Participate in HAZCOM and chemical safety training programs
  • Take necessary steps to protect themselves and their coworkers
  • Participate in identifying and controlling hazards

NAHB Model HAZCOM Program

NAHB HAZCOM 2012 (GHS) Training

How will GHS change the HAZCOM standard?

Classification of Hazardous Chemicals

Classification is the starting point for hazard communication. The GHS is designed to be consistent and transparent. Although 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.


OSHA employers to train employees 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.

Additional Information

OSHA's HAZCOM 2012: What You Need to Know Webinar Replay

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 not cover the necessary training required by the original OSHA HAZCOM Standard 1910.1200.