A proposed rule to align the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) with provisions of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) was published in the September 30 Federal Register.
The current HCS requires chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import and provide information to subsequent users. The current standard requires all employers to have a hazard communication program for workers exposed to hazardous chemicals. The program includes materials such as container labels, safety data sheets, and employee training.
A number of countries, including the United States, international organizations and stakeholders participated in developing the GHS to address inconsistencies in hazard classification and communications. The GHS was developed to provide a single, harmonized system to classify chemicals, labels and safety data sheets with the primary benefit of increasing the quality and consistency of information provided to workers, employers and chemical users. Under the GHS, labels would include signal words, pictograms, and hazard and precautionary statements. Additionally, information on safety data sheets would be presented in a designated order.
“The proposal to align the hazard communication standard with the GHS will improve the consistency and effectiveness of hazard communications and reduce chemical-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities,” said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab. “Following the GHS approach will increase workplace safety, facilitate international trade in chemicals, and generate cost savings from production efficiencies for firms that manufacture and use hazardous chemicals.”
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA’s role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America’s men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, and education. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.