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Big Changes Ahead for OSHA’s HazCom Standard

OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom), 29 CFR 1910.1200, is about to have a significant facelift. By OSHA’s own estimate, over 5 million workplaces across the country will be affected by the revised regulations.

The HazCom Standard requires employers to develop a HazCom Program that adequately communicates and trains workers exposed to hazardous chemicals in the workplace, including requirements such as container labeling. The HazCom Standard also requires chemical manufacturers and importers to convey hazard information through development of material safety data sheets (MSDS).

OSHA recently enacted new regulations as part of a 324-page final rule that will modify the HazCom Standard to conform to the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), 77 Fed. Reg. 17,574 (March 26, 2012).

Major changes to the HazCom Standard include the following:

  • Safety Data Sheets – No longer known as MSDS, SDS will have a standardized 16-section format;
  • Labels – Every label will be required to have a hazard statement, a Pictogram, signal words (such as “danger” for more severe hazards, and “warning” for less severe hazards), and a precautionary statement; and
  • Hazard Classification – The revised HazCom Standard will have specific criteria for each health and physical hazard and also addresses mixtures.

OSHA is retaining the requirement that safety data sheets include Threshold Value Limits (TLVs) and permissible exposure limits (PELs).

While compliance with the new final rule does not take effect until June 1, 2015, employers must train employees on the new label requirements and format for Safety Data Sheets by no later than December 1, 2013.

Chances are that your business is one of the more than 5 million workplaces in the United States that will be impacted by these new requirements. To understand how this new OSHA regulation may impact your business and how to prepare in advance to comply with the changes, please contact any member of Spencer Fane’s Environmental Practice Group.