December 1 – The First GHS Deadline: A Recap

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For those of you who have been keeping up with the latest compliance news (as well as our blog), you already know that December 1 was the first ghs-flammable-productsdeadline for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) push to integrate the agency’s Hazard Communication Standard or HazCom with the UN’s Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals or GHS.

As mentioned in a previous article, by December 1 employers are expected to have provided their employees training on the new elements of GHS-compliant labels and the new format of Safety Data Sheets or SDS. Specifically, your employees by now should have been properly trained on the following:

  • The new elements of GHS labels:
    • The type of information contained on the new labels including the product identifier, signal word, pictograms, hazard statements, precautions, and general information of the chemical manufacturer, importer or distributor.
    • How the new labels are to be used in a particular workplace.
    • How the new label elements work together.
  • The new format of the SDS:
    • The standardized 16-section format, specifically, the information contained in each section.
    • The relationship between the information found on the new labels and the SDS.

At this point, it should be mentioned that, while the headers of all the 16 contents of the new standardized SDS are mandatory, OSHA will not enforce the contents certain sections, specifically, sections 12 to 15:

  • Section 12 – Ecological information
  • Section 13 – Disposal considerations
  • Section 14 – Transport information
  • Section 15 – Regulatory information

The reason for this is these sections fall within the jurisdiction of other agencies.

Another article also mentioned the other GHS compliance deadlines that you should be aware of. To recap, these dates are:

  • June 1, 2015 – By this date, all chemical manufacturers, distributors, importers and employers should comply with all other requirements of the revised standard.
  • December 1, 2015 – By this date, no chemical containers shall be shipped unless labeled with a GHS label.
  • June 1, 2016 – By this date, all workplace labeling should be updated; hazcom programs should also be updated including additional training for any new chemical hazards.

One question many employers may have is, what is the value all these changes bring to the workplace? OSHA expects these changes to greatly increase safety and reduce occupational hazards to the tune of $250 million a year due to the prevention of about 43 fatalities and 585 injuries and illnesses annually.

While the next deadline is still several months off, it’s never too early to look into being compliant by then. For more information regarding GHS, you may check out OSHA’s HazCom FAQ’s here. As always, stay safe.

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