In the March 2012 edition of the Federal Register (77 FR 17574), OSHA published its revisions to the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). The revisions align OSHA requirements with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, commonly called the GHS. To provide time for compliance, OSHA established a phase in program for the requirements over a period of several years. The first deadline was December 1, 2013.
The revisions will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers by providing easily understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals. Two significant changes contained in the revised standard require the use of new labeling elements and a standardized format for Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). The new label elements and SDS requirements will improve worker understanding of the hazards associated with the chemicals in their workplace. The standard applies to all chemicals known to be present in the workplace in such a manner that employees may be exposed under normal conditions or in a foreseeable emergency. Employers have a duty to provide adequate training on these changes to all employees.
By December 1, 2013, employers must have trained their workers on the new label elements and the SDS format. This training is necessary as workers are already seeing the new labels and SDSs on the chemicals in their workplace. To ensure employees have the information they need to protect themselves from chemical hazards in the workplace during the transition period, it is critical that employees understand the new label and SDS formats.
The list below contains the minimum required topics for the training that should have been completed by December 1, 2013.
Training on label elements must include information on the type of information the employee would expect to see on the new labels, including the:
- Product identifier
- Signal word
- Hazard statement(s)
- Precautionary statement(s)
- How an employee might use the labels in the workplace
- General understanding of how the elements work together on a label
- Training on the format of the SDS
Employers may conduct the training in-house or may contract with someone knowledgeable on the revised OSHA hazard communication standard to conduct the training. The employer must provide training in a manner that is understandable by each employee, which means the employer must consider and accommodate limitations such as language, vocabulary, and literacy. Employers are still required to do annual training on hazard communication (hazcom) in addition to these new requirements.
The effective dates for the revisions are shown in the table below.
|Effective Completion Date||Requirement(s)||Who|
|December 1, 2013||Train employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format.||Employers|
June 1, 2015
December 1, 2015
Compliance with all modified provisions of the final rule, except:
The distributor shall not ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer unless it is a GHS label.
|Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers|
|June 1, 2015||Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.||Employers|
|Transition Period to the effective completion dates noted above||May comply with either 29 C.F.R. 1910.1200 (the final standard), or the current standard, or both.||Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers|
Employers have until June 1, 2015 to update workplace labeling, revise their Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and provide additional training to employees. By June 1, 2016 employers must ensure proper labeling of each container on the employers’ premises.
Some of the provisions of the TN Hazardous Chemical Right to Know Act are still in effect. Employers must also include volunteer firefighters for purpose of the training and must train all employees even if the employees are illiterate or have learning disabilities. Employers must also measure the effectiveness of their training by verbal recall and evaluate training through employee interviews.
The employer must provide annual training and maintain records of the training that include:
- Identification of those trained
- Date of the training
- Brief description (e.g., symptoms of CO poisoning, H2SO4 emergency procedures, etc.)
The training records must be maintained for the period of employment + 5 years and must identify the following:
- Identity of the employee trained
- Date(s) of training
- Brief description of the training
The employer must maintain SDS for as long as the chemical is used or stored. You must maintain the chemical list for 30 years
Tennessee OSHA (TOSHA) has a PowerPoint presentation that an agency can download and use for training on the revisions and the GHS. The person who conducts the training should be familiar with OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard. The PowerPoint is available at http://www.state.tn.us/labor-wfd/tosha/tosha_pres.shtml.