On March 20, OSHA released its revised Hazard Communication (HazCom) Standard, aligning it with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). GHS attempts to standardize hazard communication by requiring a consistent format for safety data sheets and the use of pictograms to depict hazards. According to the OSHA news release, the new standard will prevent an estimated 43 deaths in the U.S. each year, result in an estimated $475.2 million in enhanced productivity for U.S. businesses each year and prevent an estimated 585 injuries and illnesses annually.
During today’s press teleconference, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, mentioned that threshold limit values (TLV®s) are included in the final rule, and that Dec. 1, 2013 is the date by which employers are required to train employees on the new label elements and the new safety data sheet format. Compliance with the rule is expected by June 1, 2015, with a few exceptions. The revised standard will be fully implemented by 2016.
AIHA issued a press release offering its support for OSHA's final rule updating the HCS. “With the continued expansion of the global economy, particularly in the manufacture and increased use of hazardous chemicals, many AIHA members have extensive experience and direct involvement with technical and policy issues regarding MSDSs and are involved in the development or review of MSDS for their employers. Aligning the HCS with the GHS will provide AIHA members better tools to protect workers on a worldwide basis” AIHA President Elizabeth Pullen said.
View the final rule on OSHA’s website. For more information on GHS and the revised HazCom Standard, visit the agency’s “Hazard Communication” page.