Organizations must achieve full compliance with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) by June 1, 2016. Over 43 million workers and 5 million industries are affected by the Hazard Communication standard.
Full-compliance with GHS in the United States will help to achieve universal understanding of the classification of chemical hazards and safety data sheets. It also serves to improve the safety and health of employees. OSHA estimates the modified standard will prevent over 500 workplace injuries and illnesses and 43 fatalities annually (from OSHA Fact Sheet).
Chemical manufacturers and importers have the responsibility to provide the information to Employers prior to June 1 to allow them to have time achieve compliance.
By June 1, Employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces MUST:
• Update alternative workplace labels and hazard communication program as necessary
• Provide additional training to employees on newly identified physical or health hazards in the workplace
• Apply the new format of Safety Data Sheets that require 16 specific sections
• Achieve FULL compliance with GHS including anything else required by the HazCom 2012 guidelines.
What are the benefits of the new standard?
• Universally improves communication and consistency of hazard information
• Improves employee comprehension of hazards and workplace safety
• More efficient access to information on the safety data sheets
• Minimizes the misuse of chemicals in the workplace
• Increases productivity for American businesses. Organizations are estimated to save more than $475 million due to productivity improvements, simpler training requirements and fewer label and SDS updates
Hazard Communication was the second most frequently cited standard by federal OSHA from October 2014 to September 2015. The top cited section within the standard is 1910.1200(h)(1): Employee information and training. Training employees on the hazardous chemicals they will encounter in their work area is crucial to truly improve safety and productivity in the workplace.
For specific questions and details on the modified standard, refer to the OSHA Q&A page.
Wells Insurance offers a comprehensive GHS Training that assists organizations with their compliance efforts. This program includes the requirements needed to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), in particular hazard classification, Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), and chemical container labels.