Hazardous Material Safety Training Updates Employees On New Hazard Communication Standard

Chemicals, gases and other hazardous materials can create one of the most dangerous situations for employees if the materials are not handled, stored or used correctly. The Hazard Communication Standard in 1983 gave the employees the ‘right to know’ what they were working with, and gave them hazardous material safety training to educate them.

Recently, OSHA has moved to a system in which the information for hazardous material safety is communicated consistently around the globe. The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is expected to prevent injuries and illnesses and improve the knowledge of hazards throughout the world because workers will be able to identify the dangers of and necessary precautions for any chemical that they work with, regardless of where it came from. While the old Hazard Communication Standard gives the employees the ‘right to know,’ the new GHS gives the employees the ‘right to understand.’

Major Changes To Hazardous Material Safety

Hazard Classification: Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import. Hazard classification under the new GHS provides specific criteria to address health and physical hazards, as well as classification for chemical mixtures.

Labels:  Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram(s), hazard statement and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category.

Safety Data Sheets:  The new SDS format requires 16 sections that must follow a certain order.

Effective Dates

By December 1, of 2013, all employers were required to provide hazardous material safety training to employees on the new label elements and SDS format.

By June 1, 2015, chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers were to have complied with all modified provisions of this final rule, except:

  • Distributors could continue to 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 program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.

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