OSHA has recently revised its Hazard Communication or Right to Know standard. According to OSHA, the revisions will affect five million workplaces, and over 40 million workers.
The revisions align U.S. worker right-to-know requirements with the United Nations’Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, or GHS. The changes are designed to reduce confusion about chemical hazards in the workplace, and improve safety training and worker understanding of chemical hazards in the workplace through improved chemical labeling and the new 16-section safety data sheets, or SDS. The SDS will replace the existing material safety data sheets. The GHS revisions will become law effective May 25, 2012. However, OSHA will allow employers a 4-year transition or phase-in period to comply with all of the new GHS requirements in the worker right-to-know rule.
There are segmented transitions deadlines adjust to the new GHS revisions. Up until December 1, 2012 employers have the choice to train with the old standards, or the new GHS, or both. OSHA says that your company should start the training ASAP! It is imperative that employers train employees how to read and understand both the new labeling systems and the SDS.
This new revision will eliminate confusion as safety is becoming a global entity and the standard should be as symmetric as possible.
Understanding and training the new requirements will allow your company to remain in compliance with the HAZCOM standard, and keep your employees safe in the workplace.