WASHINGTON — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. Any company that produces, distributes or uses chemicals must train their employees by Dec. 1 on the changes, reminds the Textile Care Allied Trades Association.
Two significant changes contained in the revised standard, according to OSHA, require the use of new labeling elements and a standardized format for Safety Data Sheets (SDS), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
The new label elements and SDS requirements will improve worker understanding of the hazards associated with the chemicals in their workplace. Training on this is needed early in the transition process since workers are already beginning to see the new labels and SDS on the chemicals in their workplace, OSHA says.
There are minimum required topics for the training that must be completed by Dec. 1.
Training on label elements must include information on:
- Type of information the employee would expect to see on the new labels, including:
Product Identifier — How the hazardous chemical is identified.
Signal Word — Used to indicate the relative level of severity of hazard and alert the reader to the potential hazard on the label. There are only two signal words: “Danger” and “Warning.”
Pictogram — OSHA’s required pictograms must be in the shape of a square set at a point and include a black hazard symbol on a white background with a red frame sufficiently wide enough to be clearly visible. OSHA has designated eight pictograms under this standard for application to a hazard category.
Hazard Statement(s) — Describes the nature of the hazard(s) of a chemical, including, where appropriate, the degree of hazard.
Precautionary Statement(s) — A phrase that 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.
Name, Address and Phone Number of the Chemical Manufacturer, Distributor, or Importer
- How an employee might use the labels in the workplace.
- A general understanding of how the elements work together on a label.
Training on the format of the SDS must include information on:
- Standardized 16-section format, including the type of information found in the various sections.
- How the information on the label is related to the SDS.
OSHA requires employers to present information in a manner and language that their employees can understand. If employers customarily need to communicate work instructions or other workplace information to employees in a language other than English, they will also need to provide safety and health training to employees in the same manner.
OSHA’s Hazard Communication website has resources available to assist employers with the required training.
To help companies comply with the revised standard, OSHA is phasing in the specific requirements over several years.