OSHA Clarifies HCS 2012 Requirements for Labeling Existing Stock

Published June 10, 2015

Chemical distributors may continue to ship chemicals with labels that comply with OSHA’s 1994 Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) until Dec. 1, 2015, according to interim guidance issued by the agency on May 29. The guidance is intended to allay concerns from distributors that beginning June 1, OSHA’s 2012 HCS, which aligns the standard with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), would require them to relabel existing stock already packaged for shipment.

The National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) issued a press release welcoming OSHA’s clarification. “The agency’s guidance issued late last week allays many of the concerns our members have regarding compliance with the new OSHA requirements, most importantly, that they may continue to ship previously packaged and labeled products,” said NACD President Eric R. Byer.

Manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals may continue to use HCS 1994 labels after June 1 “under certain limited circumstances,” according to the interim guidance, provided that they demonstrate good-faith efforts to obtain the new label information from their upstream suppliers.

The interim guidance also draws a distinction between companies that only distribute chemicals and those that also blend, mix, and repackage them prior to distribution. These latter companies are considered manufacturers under the HCS, according to the guidance.