OSHA Instructs Compliance Officers on Enforcement of HazCom Standard

Published July 22, 2015

New instructions issued by OSHA provide guidance to agency compliance officers for enforcing the revised Hazard Communication (HazCom) Standard both during its transition period and after it is fully implemented on June 1, 2016. The instructions outline the revisions to the standard, including the standardization of label elements for containers of hazardous chemicals and the specification of safety data sheet (SDS) format and required content. According to the OSHA press release, the instructions will help ensure consistent enforcement of the revised standard, which the agency says improves the quality, consistency, and clarity of chemical hazard information that workers receive. The instructions are available on OSHA’s website.

OSHA released its revised HazCom Standard in March 2012; this revision aligned the standard with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Employers were required to train workers on the new label elements and SDS by Dec. 1, 2013, and chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors were required to comply with revised SDS requirements by June 1, 2015. Chemical distributors have until Dec. 1 to comply with the revised standard’s labeling provisions if they are not creating SDS or relabeling materials.

By June 1, 2016, employers must update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication programs as necessary and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.

For more information, including effective dates and agency documents, visit OSHA's Hazard Communication Web page.