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OSHA Chemical Regulations Mean ‘Work for Manufacturers’

Chemical manufacturers have a lot of work ahead as they aim to comply with regulations occurring from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration aligning its 2012 Hazard Communication Standard with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System framework, according to a white paper by compliance products firm Labelmaster.

In March 2012, OSHA revised its 1983 Hazard Communication Standard, or HCS, by aligning it with the UN’s global chemical communication system: the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, or GHS. By the end of 2013, the first deadline outlined in the regulation will have passed and the largest change in workplace safety regulation since 1983 will be in full swing, according to GHS Impact On US Chemical Manufacturers: Regulatory Changes And Practical Guidance.

According to Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, the 1983 HCS gave workers the right to know whereas the 2012 update gives them “the right to understand, as well.”

By Dec. 1, all US workers who come into contact with just one chemical in the workplace will have to be trained to understand how to interpret hazards communicated through pictograms and standardized material safety data sheets, now called safety data sheets, or SDS.

Whereas the 1983 HCS simply mandated that chemicals were labelled with their identity, appropriate hazard warnings and some other administrative information, the 2012 requirements call for a more detailed description of the chemical as well as a hazard statement, pictograms, precautionary statements and a number of other pieces of information related to potential hazards. According to Labelmaster, chemical manufacturers will have to do most of the work to comply with the incoming regulations.

In March, information and analytics company IHS released updated versions of its enterprise software for advanced product compliance, chemical management and safety data sheet management. IHS Comply Plus 3.2 and IHS Intelligent Authoring 4.3.1 aims to offer many improvements that help organizations address business challenges driven by the revised hazard communication standard from OSHA.

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