OSHA is proposing to modify the Hazard Communication Standard to be in alignment with the provisions of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The sole purpose of the GHS is to increase the consistency of information given to all chemical users by adopting a standardized approach to hazard classification, labels, and safety data. It is intended to increase safety in the workplace and make international trade in chemicals easier.
If this modification takes place, Safety Data Sheets (SDS) will have a specified format with 16 sections. Chemical manufacturers and importers will have to provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. This will allow workers, employers, and all chemical users to understand even the most basic chemical information without any language restrictions.
Although no date has been specified for this final ruling, it is expected to move rather quickly. Once it becomes effective, there will be a 3-year transition period. This will allow chemical manufacturers and importers time to switch to the new format and allow time for training employees so they become familiar with the new system. Until this ruling becomes final, employers are expected to comply with either OSHA’s existing Hazard Communication Standard or the proposed ruling.
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