December 1, 2013 is the deadline set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) for employers to train their employees on OSHA’s revised Hazard Communication Standard (“HCS”). OSHA’s regulatory scheme applies to every employer with U.S. based employees. Virtually every employer will have hazardous chemicals in its workplace in varying degrees.
OSHA issued its revised HCS in March 2012 to align its safety standard with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification Standard. OSHA states that the revised HCS is designed to reduce confusion about chemical hazards in the workplace and establish uniform standards for labels and safety data sheets for all chemicals made in the United States and imported from other countries.
The two main changes included in the revised HCS are new labeling requirements for hazardous chemicals and a new format for Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets. The revised HCS will require hazardous chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors to include the following information on chemical labels: a product identifier (such as the chemical name, code number, batch number), a signal word (either “warning” or “danger”), a pictogram, a hazard statement, a precautionary statement, and supplier identification. OSHA also created a standard 16-section format for all SDSs, which must be used by all hazardous chemical manufacturers, distributors, and importers.
OSHA’s revised HCS will be implemented in stages. The first compliance deadline in the revised HCS is December 1, 2013, the date employers must have trained their employees on the new labeling requirements and SDS format. The revised HCS is scheduled to be fully-implemented by June 2016, at which time employers, chemical manufacturers, distributors, and importers must comply with all aspects of the revised standard.
Check this blog regularly as we track the different compliance measures associated with this revised OSHA standard.