The deadline is 6/1/16 for all hazard communication programs and workplace signs to be in compliance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) standard. In 2003, the United Nations adopted the GHS standard which includes criteria classifying (1) health, (2) physical and (3) environmental hazards. It also specifies what information should be included on labels of chemicals, as well as safety data sheets.
In an increasingly globalized world, the conversion to GHS is expected to enhance protection of human health and the environment by providing an internationally comprehensible system for hazard communication. According to the EPA, GHS will help ensure more consistency in the classification and labeling of all chemicals, thereby improving and simplifying hazard communication. This improved communication system will alert the user to the presence of a hazard and the need to minimize exposure and risk, resulting in safer transportation, handling and use of chemicals.
GHS classifies chemicals and uses pictograms, hazard statements, and the signal words “Danger” and “Warning” to communicate hazard information on product labels and SDSs. All chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to communicate the appropriate information along with precautionary statements.
GHS Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are similar to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requirements for Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), although sections two and three have been reversed. The SDS should provide a clear description of the data used to identify the hazards.
For more information on the new hazard communication requirements, visit OSHA’s Hazard Communication page: https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html
The conversion from traditional methods of hazard communication to GHS may be difficult to navigate. Contact Tiffany Passmore at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1-800-462-6435 x234 for ongoing support with building and maintaining your OSHA compliance program.