Workplace Safety through Standardized Hazard Classification, Labeling & Safety Data Sheets: Integrating the Globally Harmonized System of Classification & Labeling of Chemicals (GHS)

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) adopted the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) in its revised Hazard Communication Standard [29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910.1200] on March 26, 2012. GHS is an internationally agreed-upon system designed to ensure consistent global classification and labeling standards. This is more important than ever as economies continue to globalize, in order to mitigate harm to individuals and damage to the environment.  The following is the first of a three-part series providing an overview of GHS impact on OHSA’s CFR 1910.1200; core areas include hazard classification, labeling, safety data sheets and training.


OSHA determined GHS integration made sense as its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) has performance-oriented requirements for labels and safety data sheets. The GHS is specification oriented, so implementation of the GHS required changes including mandatory label elements and Safety Data Sheet (SDS; formerly MSDS) criteria and formatting.  The revised Standard is expected to impact more than five million facilities and 40 million workers. OSHA anticipates it will prevent 43 fatalities and 521 injuries and illnesses annually.

Benefits of Standardization
The goal of hazard communications is to ensure employers, employees and the public are provided with adequate, reliable and comprehensive information on chemical hazards, in order to take preventive and protective safety measures. OSHA identified the following benefits for companies:

  • Safer work environment and improved relations with employees
  • Increased efficiency and reduced costs from compliance with hazard communication regulations
  • Application of expert systems to maximize resources and minimize labor and costs
  • Facilitation of electronic transmission systems with international scope
  • Expanded use of training programs on health and safety
  • Reduced costs due to fewer accidents and illnesses
  • Improved corporate image and credibility

Deadlines for Compliance

The OSHA HCS went into effect May 25, 2012 but compliance takes place in stages:

  • Dec. 1, 2013: Deadline for training employees on new label elements.
  • June 1, 2015: Classification, labeling and SDS requirements. Distributors may ship products with old labels until December 1, 2015.
  • June 1, 2016: Other workplace requirements take effect; include requirements for hazard communication program and training on newly identified hazards.

Hazard Classifications

It is important to know what chemicals used with products present hazards to humans and to identify protective means to control them. Measures may include developing and maintaining a written hazard communication program for the workplace; labeling containers of chemicals and containers shipped to other workplaces; preparation and distribution of safety data sheets; and implementation of safety training programs regarding hazards and protective measures.

In the revised Standard, the definition of hazards changed to provide criteria for classification of health and physical hazards; plus classification of mixtures. GHS identified physical, chemical and environmental hazards, and classified them by defining categories within each hazard class with objective criteria. GHS provides guidance on calculating hazards of a mixture depending on categories of the various components and their proportions; plus various approaches for different hazards, resulting in a more accurate system.  This ensures hazard evaluations are consistent, plus labels and safety data sheets are more accurate.

Next in the series is an overview of the impact of GHS on labeling within OHSA’s CFR 1910.1200. игровые автоматы онлайн адмирал


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