Full Implementation of Hazard Communication Standard Expected in 2016


Three years ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) aligned its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

Once fully implemented in 2016, OSHA expects the changes will impact over five million facilities and over 40 million workers.

HazCom 2012 provides a common approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets (SDS). The definitions of hazard were changed to provide specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards and for the classification of mixtures.

Chemical manufacturers and importers now are required to provide a harmonized label that has six standardized elements for classified hazards, including product identifier, manufacturer contact information, hazard pictograms, signal word (DANGER or WARNING), hazard statements and precautionary statements.

SDSs, previously known as Material Safety Data Sheets, remain the backbone of HCS. Employers must ensure they are readily accessible to employees. The major change here is a required, standardized 16-section format, which includes identification; hazard(s) identification; composition/ingredient information; first-aid measures; firefighting measures; accidental release measures; handling and storage; exposure control/personal protection; physical and chemical properties; stability and reactivity; toxicological information; ecological information; disposal considerations; transport information; regulatory information; and other information.

To be compliant, an SDS needs all 16 sections; however, OSHA will not enforce sections 12-15, which fall outside its jurisdiction.

For more information on complying with the standards, visit www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom.