Changes to OSHA's Hazard Communication (Hazcom) Standard are bringing the United States into alignment with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), further improving safety and health protections for America's workers. The GHS is expected to prevent injuries and illnesses, save lives and improve trade conditions for chemical manufacturers. The Hazard Communication Standard in 1983 gave the workers the "right to know," but the new Globally Harmonized System gives workers the "right to understand."
OSHAs alignment of the Hazcom standard with GHS brings changes for workers covered by Hazcom. Changes include subdividing of physical and health hazard classes into sub-categories based upon severity, as well as new formats for safety data sheets (SDS) and labels. To comply, manufacturers and distributors must reclassify their chemicals and provide GHS-formatted safety data sheets and labels to customers. Employers must train their workers about GHS and make any necessary update to their chemical hazard programs and workplace labeling.
June 1, 2016 is the deadline for employers to update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards. Essentially this means that employers must have workplace labeling and hazard communication programs up to date as necessary (this includes having all Material Safety Data Sheet-formatted documents replaced with the newer Safety Data Sheet-formatted documents). It also states that additional training must be conducted for newly identified physical or health hazards.
For more information on this topic, visit the OSHA website.