|Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) pictogram for corrosive substances (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Assistant Secretary Michaels explained that OSHA's revised Hazard Communication standard (HCS), which will be fully implemented in 2016, benefits workers by reducing confusion in the workplace, facilitating safety training, and improving understandings of hazards, especially for low-wage and limited-literacy workers. The harmonized standard will classify chemicals according to their health and physical hazards, and establish consistent labels and safety data sheets (SDS) for all chemicals made in the United States or imported from abroad. For more information, listen to an audio-recording of the press conference and see the press release.
Employers must train workers on the new label elements and SDS format by December 1, 2013. Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers must comply with all modified provisions of the final rule by June 1, 2015. However, distributors may ship products labeled by manufacturers under the old system until December 1, 2015. By June 1, 2016, employers must update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication programs as necessary, and provide additional worker training for new identified physical and health hazards. During this transition period, all chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers may comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (this final standard), or the current standard, or both.