There are three main areas in the existing Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) which have changed with the adoption of GHS. This includes hazard classification, labels, and safety data sheets.
Which specific changes do I need to be aware of?
- New classification criteria for health, physical, and environmental chemical hazards
- Standardized label elements for hazard classes and categories
- The appropriate signal words, pictograms, and hazard and precautionary statements required to communicate the danger to users
- A standardized order of information for Safety Data Sheets (SDS-the updated version of MSDS)
1. Hazard classification (formerly hazard determination) is one of the major areas of change. Definitions of hazard now provide specific criteria for classification of health, physical, and environmental chemical hazards. Also for the classification of mixtures.
Making the criteria more specific ensures better consistency in the evaluation of hazardous effects across manufacturers. This also results in more accurate safety data sheets (formerly material safety data sheets.)
So how is hazard evaluation changing? The current Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), provides parameters for evaluation, but doesn't give specific, detailed criteria. The revised HCS, on the other hand, has specific criteria for each health and physical hazard, plus detailed instructions for evaluation. This new method of evaluation is covered in the required GHS training.
The revised HCS also establishes hazard classes and categories. A class describes the different hazards. For example, "Gases under Pressure" is an example of a class in the physical hazards group. Categories are used to describe the sub-sections of classes. For example, "Self-Reactive Chemicals" has seven categories. Each category has rules or criteria to determine which chemicals are assigned to that category.
For more information, see paragraph (d) or Appendixes A and B of the revised rule.
2. Standardized labels for hazard classes and categories will now be required. Previously, label preparation could be done in a variety of ways with the method being left to the preparer. Under the revised HCS, once classification has been done, the standard will specify what should go on the label.
3. According to the revised HCS, labels will now require the following:
- A pictogram, which is the GHS symbol on the label and SDS (there are nine.) Not all categories will have an associated symbol.
- A signal word, which indicates the relative severity of the hazard. There are only two: danger (more severe hazards) and warning (less severe.)
- A hazard statement which is a description of the nature of the hazards of the chemical. There is a hazard statement for each category of a class. For example, for chemicals in the "Self-heating substances and mixtures" class (category 1), the hazard statement would be "Self-heating; may catch fire." This would appear on both the label and the SDS.
- A precautionary statement describing recommended measures to minimize or prevent adverse effects resulting from exposure to, improper storage of, or handling of a hazardous chemical.
4. Information on the safety data sheet (SDS) will be about the same as what we currently have (MSDS). The current standard indicates what should be included, but doesn't specify a format for presentation or order of information. The revised HCS has sixteen sections and uses consistent headings in a designated sequence.
- Hazard(s) identification
- Composition/information on ingredients
- First-Aid measures
- Fire-fighting measures
- Accidental release measures
- Handling and storage
- Exposure controls/personal protection
- Physical and chemical properties
- Stability and reactivity
- Toxicological information
- Ecological information
- Disposal considerations
- Transport information
- Regulatory information
- Other information, including date of preparation or last revision
The SDS format is the same as the ANSI standard format which is already widely used in the U.S.
For more information on SDS, see paragraph (g) or Appendix D of the final rule.