OSHA Update: Aligning GHS with the Hazard Communication Standard Reply

In September of 2006, OSHA announced that it would be aligning its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).  To date, 67 countries around the world have implemented some form of GHS, and many chemical manufacturers, suppliers, and end users of chemical products are anxiously awaiting its implementation in The United States.  In a recent web chat, OSHA announced it has updated its timeframe to publish a final rule on GHS alignment with HCS in September 2011. However, it also stated that the proposed rule is still undergoing an internal agency review and has yet to be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for its usual 90-day review, so it is likely that the final rule will not be published until early 2012.

When the rule is finally published, it may include an implementation schedule that would allow up to three years or more to achieve compliance. OSHA has stated it is not changing the major components of the HCS but instead is modifying it to align with the major elements of GHS which include guidelines for hazard classifications, hazard warning statements, container labels, and safety data sheets (SDS).  The immediate impact will be to chemical manufacturers and suppliers who will have to rewrite, publish, and distribute new chemical safety data sheets and also provide new labels for chemical containers.

 The anticipated impacts to employers in the US will include:

  • Modification of written hazard communication programs
  • Modification of employee training programs to cover the new chemical classifications, labeling, and hazard warnings (pictograms)
  • Obtaining new SDSs to replace existing MSDSs
  • Re-labeling of in-house chemical containers with the new labels

When the final rule is published, CAPACCIO will provide a summary of its major requirements and the implementation timeline for compliance in an e-blast. A series of webinars to discuss the new rule and its impact on our clients will also quickly follow.

For more information, please contact Bob King at 508.970.0033 x113 or bking@capaccio.com.

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