The new HazCom standard, which was adopted in 2012, aims to improve employees’ understanding of the health and physical dangers of chemicals and to align reporting with then United Nations‘ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, also known as GHS, reports Lexology.com.
Along with OSHA‘s adoption of GHS, the new standards also renames material safety data sheets as safety data sheets. Safety data sheets have to meet a specific 16-section format.
Other changes include the introduction of a specific hazard classification that must be followed. In the past, chemical manufacturers still had to follow a standard, but they had a choice of several different classifications from which to choose. The new standard also has more prescriptive labeling guidelines that call for the use of pictograms (examples pictured), signal words, hazard statements, and precautionary statements to detail what hazards may be in the chemicals.
By Dec. 1, employers must have trained staff on the new regulations.
Earlier this month Underwriters Laboratories had acquired supply chain software company The Wercs, whose proprietary, automated system assists in the transition to new GHS safety data sheet requirements.
In October, OSHA launched two web resources that aim to safeguard workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals. OSHA created a toolkit, called Transitioning to Safer Chemicals, to identify safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous ones. OSHA also developed the Annotated Permissible Exposure Limits, or annotated PEL tables, to enable employers to voluntarily adopt newer, more protective workplace exposure limits.
In July, the Canadian health ministry launched a consultation into the application of the GHS to workplace chemicals, building on the Canada-US commitment to cooperate on GHS implementation. Health minister Leona Aglukkaq said the initiative will reduce barriers for producers wishing to sell their products in Canada and the US.
Image Credit: Hazardous pictograms – GHS via Shutterstock