OSHA Proposes Update to Hazard Communication Standard 
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On, Feb. 5. the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed an update of its hazard communication standard.

The new rule would align U.S. standards with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling Chemicals (GHS). 

The proposed updates would, most notably, include the codification of enforcement policies currently in OSHA’s compliance directive, clarifying requirements related to the transportation of hazardous chemicals, adding alternative labeling for small containers, and adding new requirements for the preparation of Safety Data Sheets (SDS). 

OSHA proposed this update as the U.S.’s major international partners are also working to align their own HazCom rules with recent U.N. changes. To comply with the standard, employers must maintain a GHS-style, 16-section SDS for each chemical that’s considered to be a health or physical hazard under U.S. law and regulations.


Employers Needs Will Be Addressed  About Hazard Communication


Employers feedback around necessary improvements to the standard is reflected in the proposed changes.

Key updates of the proposed rule include: 

  • Additional flexibility for labeling bulk shipments of hazardous chemicals, including allowing labels to be placed on the immediate container or transmitted with shipping papers, bills of lading, or by other technological or electronic means that are immediately available to workers in printed form on the receiving end of the shipment.
  • More alternative labeling options where a manufacturer or importer can demonstrate that it is not feasible to use traditional pull-out labels, fold-back labels, or tags containing the full label information normally required under the standard, including specific alternative requirements for containers less than or equal to 100ml capacity and for containers less than or equal to 3ml capacity.
  • New requirements to update the labels on individual containers that have been released for shipment but are awaiting future distribution where the manufacturer, importer or distributor becomes aware of new significant information regarding the hazards of the chemical.

These proposed modifications may help increase worker protections and reduce chemical-related occupational and injuries by making labels and SDS more clear for hazardous chemicals. 


About the GHS


The GHS provides an internationally harmonized approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazards.

The system is centered around establishing universal standards for hazard testing, warning pictograms and safety data sheets for a wide range of hazardous chemicals. OSHA’s proposal intends to bring U.S. regulations in line with the seventh version of the GHS, published in 2017, as well as the eighth version from 2019. 

OSHA is currently accepting comments on its proposed rule until April 19. Comments may be submitted electronically to Docket No. OSHA-2019-0001 at http://www.regulations.gov.


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