OSHA Revamps HazCom Standard to Match Globally Harmonized Standard

Author: Ashley Shaw, XpertHR Legal Editor

After years of discussion, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently updated its Hazard Communication Standard in order to be closer to the Globally Harmonized Standard (GHS) that is already used in many other countries, as well as to various degrees by other agencies within the US.

The GHS is a much more in depth process than the process required by the old OSHA standard. However, there was nothing in the old standard that restricted employers from going above the requirements. Because of this, many employers may already be using the GHS in their HazCom programs.

For those employers who are not already using the GHS, the new standard will affect all four parts of their programs. Labels will have new formats, including required pictograms and signal words; Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), previously Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), will have a lot more required information; and the written program and employee training will need to be updated to reflect the changes in labels and SDSs.

Over the next four years, employers will need to bring their written hazard communication programs into compliance with the new standards. To help aid the process, OSHA has issued rolling deadlines for the program, with full compliance scheduled for June 1, 2016.

OSHA set the following deadlines for the new HazCom Standard:

  • December 1, 2013: Employers' training programs need to be updated to teach employees how to use the new labels and SDSs.
  • June 1, 2015: Manufacturers should have new labels and SDSs prepared.
  • December 1, 2015: Distributers need to distribute containers with new labels.
  • June 1, 2016: Everyone needs to be in full compliance with the new standard.

Before these dates, employers may implement the new program early or may continue to use a program that complied with the old standard.

More information about the Hazard Communication Standard can be found on OSHA's website.

Additional Resources

Risk Management - Health, Safety Security > HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance) > Hazard Communication Standard

New OSHA HazCom Requirements Affect Employee Training - Legal Timetable

New OSHA HazCom Requirements Affect Manufacturer Labels - Legal Timetable

New OSHA HazCom Requirements Affect Distributor Labels - Legal Timetable

New OSHA HazCom Requirements Affect Employer Hazard Communications - Legal Timetable