Friday, September 30, 2011

Globally Harmonized System in 2012?

OSHA published a proposed rulemaking on September 30, 2009 to align OSHA's Hazard Communication standard (HCS) with the GHS. The primary benefit of the GHS is to increase the quality and consistency of information provided to workers, employers and chemical users by adopting a standardized approach to hazard classification, labels and safety data. The GHS provides a single set of harmonized criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health and physical hazards and specifies hazard communication elements for labeling and safety data sheets. Under the GHS, labels would include signal words, pictograms, and hazard and precautionary statements. Additionally, all safety data sheets would have standardized format. This system was agreed on at an international level by governments, industry, and labor, and adopted by the UN in 2002 with a goal of 2008 for implementation.

The major proposed changes to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) are the following:

  • Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
  • Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
  • Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
  • Information and training: The GHS does not address training. However, the proposed HCS will require that workers are trained within two years of the publication of the final rule to facilitate recognition and understanding of the new labels and safety data sheets.
This Final Rule is expected to be in full effect in early 2012. You may visit National Safety Compliance's web site to preorder your Safety Data Sheet Binders and Accessories.

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