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Still Working on GHS Chemical Labeling Compliance? EHS Execs Say You’re Not Alone.

chemical warning signAlmost half of all environment, health and safety executives say their companies aren’t in compliance with new global chemical labeling rules that took effect this month, according to a survey by Actio Software.

US companies faced a June 1 deadline to update their workplace chemical labels to comply with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS).

GHS, which was established by the United Nations, aims to standardize the way hazardous chemicals are identified and labeled. OSHA revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) in 2012 to align with the GHS. It also set the US deadline, and says the new standard covers over 43 million workers who produce or handle hazardous chemicals in more than 5 million workplaces across the country.

Actio, a safety data sheet management and product compliance software supplier, conducted the survey of 139 EHS professionals in April to gain a better understanding of the readiness — or lack thereof — of companies’ alignment with OSHA’s HCS and the GHS. It found that with less than 30 days until OSHA’s final GHS deadline, 49.68 percent of the survey respondents said their company had not yet completed all of the compliance requirements.

Of the companies that were prepared, the majority (72.58 percent) said it took them more than one year to complete all of OSHA’s HCS requirements.

Additionally, 47.82 percent of respondents who had not yet completed these requirements expected that it would take their company at least another 120 days to complete all of the requirements; 30.43 percent said their company would need a longer time period.

Because companies don’t want to pay regulatory ?nes and penalties from not being in compliance, it’s likely only a matter of time until following GHS rules becomes the norm, writes Actio’s Chris Carragher in an EHS Today column.

Carragher also suggests best-practices to help companies comply such as conduct regular chemical inventories, maintaining good communication with suppliers and keeping an eye out for updated safety data sheets.

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