Tuesday, April 9, 2013

OSHA Brief: Hazard Communication Standard: Labels and Pictograms

OSHA has adopted new hazardous chemical labeling requirements as a part of its recent revision of the Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200 (HCS), bringing it into alignment with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). These changes will help ensure improved quality and consistency in the classification and labeling of all chemicals, and will also enhance worker comprehension. As a result, workers will have better information available on the safe
handling and use of hazardous chemicals, thereby allowing them to avoid injuries and illnesses related to exposures to hazardous chemicals.

The revised HCS changes the existing Hazard Communication Standard (HCS/HazCom 19941) from a performance-based standard to one that has more structured requirements for the labeling of chemicals. The revised standard requires that information about chemical hazards be conveyed on labels using quick visual notations to alert the user, providing immediate recognition of the hazards. Labels must also provide instructions on how to handle the chemical so that chemical users are informed about how to protect themselves.

The label provides information to the workers on the specific hazardous chemical. While labels provide important information for anyone who handles, uses, stores, and transports hazardous chemicals, they are limited by design in the amount of information they can provide. Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), which must accompany hazardous chemicals, are the more complete resource for details regarding hazardous chemicals. The revised standard also requires the use of a 16-section safety data sheet format, which provides detailed information regarding the chemical.

National Safety Compliance has developed safety training materials specifically to help companies comply with the new Hazard Communication Standards.

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