The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The first phase for compliance begins on December 1, 2013. At that time, the HCS will require employees to be trained on the new label elements and the updated Safety Data Sheets (SDS) format.
The revised HCS will provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. The goal is to improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers by providing easily understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals.
Hazard Communication Standard Updates
Two significant changes contained in the 2012 HCS include the revised labeling elements and the standardized format for SDSs, formerly known as the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). Employees may have already been exposed to the new labels and SDSs on the chemicals in their workplace during the transition phase. However, to ensure workplaces are compliant with the new regulations, it is critical that employees understand the new label and SDS formats.
OSHA requires the following training criteria to be in place prior to December 1, 2013.
Label training must include:
- Product identifier: The chemical may be identified by the name, code number or batch number. The manufacturer, importer, or distributor can decide the appropriate product identifier. The same product identifier must be both on the label and in Section 1 of the SDS.
- Signal word: DANGER and WARNING are the two classes utilized on the labeling. The word DANGER is used for the more severe hazards and the word WARNING is used for the less severe hazards.
- Pictogram: OSHA has designated eight pictograms to be associated with a hazard category.
- Hazard statement: The hazard statements are specific to the hazard classification categories, and chemical users should always see the same statement for the same hazards, no matter what the chemical is or who produces it.
- Precautionary statement: Describes recommended measures that should be taken to minimize or prevent adverse effects resulting from exposure to a hazardous chemical or improper storage or handling.
- Contact information: Name, address and phone number of the chemical manufacturer, distributor, or importer.
- Workplace label use: Describes proper storage requirements and first aid procedures
- Element integration: For chemicals that have multiple hazards, different pictograms are used to identify the various hazards. The employee should expect to see the appropriate pictogram for the corresponding hazard class. When there are similar precautionary statements, the one providing the most protective information will be included on the label.
Safety Data Sheet Format
- Standardized 16-section format including the section numbers, the headings, and associated information:
- Section 1: Identification includes product identifier; manufacturer or distributor name, address, phone number; emergency phone number; recommended use; restrictions on use.
- Section 2: Hazard(s) identification includes all hazards regarding the chemical; required label elements.
- Section 3: Composition/information on ingredients includes information on chemical ingredients; trade secret claims.
- Section 4: First-aid measures includes important symptoms/ effects, acute, delayed; required treatment.
- Section 5: Fire-fighting measures lists suitable extinguishing techniques, equipment; chemical hazards from fire.
- Section 6: Accidental release measures lists emergency procedures; protective equipment; proper methods of containment and cleanup.
- Section 7: Handling and storage lists precautions for safe handling and storage, including incompatibilities.
- Section 8: Exposure controls/personal protection lists OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs); Threshold Limit Values (TLVs); appropriate engineering controls; personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Section 9: Physical and chemical properties lists the chemical’s characteristics.
- Section 10: Stability and reactivity lists chemical stability and possibility of hazardous reactions.
- Section 11: Toxicological information includes routes of exposure; related symptoms, acute and chronic effects; numerical measures of toxicity.
- Section 12: Ecological information*
- Section 13: Disposal considerations*
- Section 14: Transport information*
- Section 15: Regulatory information*
- Section 16: Other information, includes the date of preparation or last revision
*Note: Since other Agencies regulate this information, OSHA will not be enforcing Sections 12 through 15 (29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(2)).