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OSHA's HAZCOM 2012 is Here!OSHA’s modified Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), known as HAZCOM 2012, is officially here! In May, the revised standard broadly adopted the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of defining, classifying, and labeling chemicals, as well as communicating hazards in the workplace.

OSHA’s revised HCS has several important changes worth noting, including: 

  • Requiring chemical manufacturers and importers classify chemical hazards into physical and health hazards
  • Requiring chemical manufacturers and importers comply with a new labeling system. The new labels will have harmonized signal words, pictograms, and a hazard statement based on the hazard category of the chemical.
  • Requiring employers to revise or replace Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which will now be known as Safety Data Sheet (SDS), with a mandatory 16-section format

According to OSHA, aligning the HCS with the GHS will provide better and more consistent hazard information to workers, thereby making workplaces safer. It will: 

  • Help improve workers (especially those with limited literacy) understanding of chemical hazards
  • Help ensure chemicals are safely handled and used
  • Help employers create safer workplaces, reduce the burden of compliance, and ease the facilitation of safety trainings

Even though employers have until December 2013 to start complying by certain provisions, it is very prudent that companies start laying out their strategy for compliance. Here at Faith Technologies, we are aware of the challenges and responsibilities this revised standard brings including determining roles and responsibilities, developing a training module for our employees, and reviewing our chemical inventory to make sure we obtain SDSs to replace our current MSDSs. Our safety department will soon start working on these requirements, and I advise other employers, manufacturers, importers, and distributors to do the same. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Below are some important dates to remember: 

  • December 1, 2013: By this date, employers must train employees on the new label requirements and the SDS format.
  • June 1, 2015: By this date, chemical importers, manufacturers, distributors, as well as employers, must comply by the modified provisions of the rule. Distributors have until December 1, 2015 to ship products labeled by the manufacturer under the old system.
  • June 1, 2016: By this date, employers must train their workers on any newly recognized physical or health hazards, as well as update their labeling and hazard communication program as necessary.