The New Hazard Communication Standard is Almost HereJan 18, 2024
The long-anticipated, repeatedly delayed update to the Occupational Health & Safety Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) could be hitting the Federal Register soon, and employers will need to get up to speed quickly. OSHA wants the new provisions to be fully effective two years from publication. While that may seem like plenty of time, implementing the new HCS will require significant training for employers and employees.
The new HCS represents a significant revision to a complex document, and it will affect how hazardous materials are identified, described, and handled in multiple situations throughout the chemical supply chain. It’s about communication — and making changes to a host of data sheets. It’s one of those situations where everybody must be on the same page to make it work. Training takes time.
Another good reason that employers should take the HCS update seriously is that OSHA takes it seriously. Hazard communication is always near the top of the agency’s annual top 10 violations list. HCS citations occur in about 10 percent of all OSHA inspections.
Based on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), published on February 16, 2021, the new HCS will be aligned with Revision 7 of the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
A few of the more significant changes to anticipate include:
- Revised classifications for flammable gases, aerosols, and desensitized explosives
- Revised requirements for “small” and “very small” shipping containers
- Updating selected hazard and precautionary statements to ensure more transparent and precise hazard information
- Revised labeling requirements for packaged containers “released for shipment”
- New requirements for classification of hazards under “normal conditions of use,” including those resulting from chemical reactions and physical changes
After the new HCS is published, manufacturers of substances have one year to bring their operations into compliance. Manufacturers of mixtures have two years. No matter where you are in the chemical supply chain, there will be much work to do in the coming months to stay on top of the new HCS and its new or revised requirements.
If you have any questions or concerns about your compliance with this (or any) OSHA standard —or if you have received a citation for any reason — don’t hesitate to contact Orr & Reno for assistance.
About the author: James F. Laboe