The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has revised its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of chemical classification and labeling.
The new standard aims to reduce confusion about chemical hazards in the workplace, facilitate safety training and establish consistent labels and safety data sheets for all chemicals made in the U.S. and imported from abroad.
Under the standard, chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import and must provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category, according to an online OSHA factsheet.
The new label format requires 16 specific sections, aimed at ensuring consistency in presentation of important protection information. Workers must be trained by December 1, 2013 on the new label elements and safety data sheet format, in addition to the current training requirements, the factsheet says.
This new standard should prevent an estimated 43 deaths and 535 injuries and result in an estimated $475.2 million in enhanced productivity for U.S. businesses each year, the department says. It is scheduled to be fully implemented in 2016.
An advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking announcing U.S. plans to align with the U.N. regulations was published in the Federal Register in 2006. In September 2011, 3E Company released a suite of software and online data management tools to help companies comply with OSHA’s alignment of its HazComm Standard with the GHS.