OSHA’s rule to align its current Hazard Communication Standard with the global harmonization system (GHS) has been finalized, and will appear in the Federal Register in the near future. In a press conference this afternoon, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels described the highlights of the new program, as well as important implementation dates.
OSHA introduced its first “HazCom” standard in 1983. Before this, no requirement existed for employers to notify their workers of the dangers posed by the hazardous materials handled in their workplace. While the original standard was an important development, OSHA now believes it provided too much flexibility, leading to problems for both employees and employers. Hazard labels and Safety Data Sheets were formatted inconsistently and sometimes included inaccurate information, making it particularly difficult and burdensome for small employers to comply with the requirements.
OSHA’s HazCom 2012 Rule – “The Right to Understand”
OSHA’s goal in adopting certain provisions of the GHS into its HazCom Standard is to give employees the “Right to Understand” the materials they work with, by creating a uniform system for classifying hazardous chemicals and providing information on the hazards to employees in the workplace through labels and Safety Data Sheets.
The new HazCom Standard will include a new, non-GHS category for “hazards not otherwise classified” (originally proposed as “unclassified hazards.”). Another important development revealed in the press conference is that combustible dust will be regulated under the new GHS HazCom Standard.
Deadline for Training Set
All employees must be trained in the new HazCom Standard before December 1, 2013. Other implementation and compliance dates will be published in the final rule, when it is released.
When the final rule is published, LionBlog will follow up with all the details. Stay tuned, the final rule could be published as early as Monday!