In an effort to reduce the number of injuries and illnesses caused by hazardous chemicals, The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has made revisions to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align it with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
"Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious threats facing American workers today," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. "Revising OSHA's Hazard Communication standard will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive."
The update is intended to provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets.
It is anticipated that once implemented, the revised standard will prevent an estimated 43 deaths and result in an estimated $475.2 million in enhanced productivity for U.S. businesses each year and is also expected to prevent an estimated 585 workplace injuries and illnesses annually.
In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable to workers. OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires the development and dissemination of such information:
Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers;
All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately.
While full compliance with the final rule will begin in 2015, OSHA believes that American workplaces will soon begin to receive labels and SDSs that are consistent with the GHS – thus requiring that employees are trained on the new label elements (i.e., pictograms, hazard statements, precautionary statements, and signal words) and SDS format by December 1, 2013. It is important to ensure that when employees begin to see the new labels and SDSs in their workplaces, they will be familiar with them, understand how to use them, and access the information effectively.
OSHA will be looking out for companies who do not complete the training and fines may be levied. Our EH&S experts are here to help sort out the changes for you and to help you stay compliant. Contact your Arbill representative to set up safety training today. Visit www.arbill.com for safety products and services that will not only help save lives but will help your profits as well.