OSHA has announced significant changes to its Hazard Communication Standards, the rules that govern material safety data sheets (MSDS), chemical warning labels, and employee training on the risks posed by hazardous chemicals. The new standards will apply to all chemicals manufactured in the United States and imported from abroad.
Who is affected?
If you are required to have a hazard communication program, train employees in the use of material data safety sheets, or prepare your own material data safety sheets for products, these new rules impact you.
What is the purpose of the changes?
The goal of the changes is to improve hazard communication, especially for low literacy workers, and to establish uniform international standards. For this reason, the new rules conform to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, commonly known as GHS.
What is the timeframe for implementation?
The new rules will be fully implemented by June 1, 2016. There are several interim deadlines:
You must complete employee training on the new label and safety data sheet requirements by December 1, 2013.
Chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors must comply with all modified labeling and safety data sheet requirements by June 1, 2015.
As of December 1, 2015, chemical distributors will not be allowed to ship a chemical container unless it has a label that conforms to the new standards.
What do I need to do?
During the transition to the new hazard communications standards, you may comply with either the current standards or the new standards. But ultimately all employers will have to update their hazard communication and safety programs to meet the new requirements.
The deadlines are not that far away! It’s time to develop a plan for compliance with the new standards. For more information or assistance, please contact us.