February 11, 2021

OSHA Proposes to Update Its Hazard Communication Standard

A proposed rule issued by OSHA on Feb. 5 would update the agency’s hazard communication standard to align with the seventh revision of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The update is intended to increase worker protections and reduce the incidence of chemical-related occupational illnesses and injuries by improving the information on labels and safety data sheets (SDSs). OSHA has also proposed changes intended to address issues that have emerged since the standard was implemented in 2012 and improve alignment with international trading partners like Canada.

GHS, an international approach to hazard communication, is intended to address criteria for the classification of chemical hazards and provide a harmonized approach to documents such as labels and SDSs. Revision 7 of the GHS was published in 2017 and included changes such as revised criteria for the categorization of flammable gases and amendments intended to clarify the definitions of some health hazard classes. The latest revision of the GHS, Revision 8, was published in 2019. A change in classification criteria for aerosols and minor changes to precautionary statements for skin irritation and serious eye damage are among the updates included in Revision 8. In the text of its proposed rule, OSHA explains that while the agency is proposing to revise its standard to align with GHS Revision 7, it has included select provisions from Revision 8 for consideration during rulemaking. According to OSHA, major U.S. trading partners are also aligning with Revision 7.

An unpublished PDF version of OSHA’s proposed rule is available for download via the Federal Register. The proposed rule is scheduled to be published on Feb. 16, 2021. OSHA will accept comments on its proposal until April 19.

For more information, see OSHA’s press release.