It’s been just over two years since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its Hazard Communication Standard with new GHS rules.
The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) created new requirements for classifying, labeling, and creating Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for hazardous chemicals in the workplace. To give manufacturers a chance to update this information and train employees on the new Standard, OSHA instituted a transition period of about three years.
The first GHS-related deadline for employers passed on December 1, 2013, and concerned employee training. OSHA required all covered employers to train their employees on the new elements of the HazCom Standard before that date.
Another important part of GHS implementation is updating existing Material Safety Data Sheets to conform to a new format. OSHA now refers to this documentation as a Safety Data Sheet, or SDS. The deadline for updating SDSs is June 1, 2015. That means that those who have not updated their SDSs will have about one year to get in compliance with the GHS requirements. [29 CFR 1910.1200(j)(2)]
New SDS Requirements
Despite the change in name, SDSs still require the same kind of information as they did before OSHA adopted the GHS standards. However, SDSs now have a mandatory 16-section format, and many of these sections may require more information than before. Twelve of these sixteen sections are mandatory, while four of the sections will not be enforced since they go beyond the scope of OSHA’s authority. [29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(2)]
The required elements for each of the SDS sections can be found in Appendix D to the Hazard Communication Standard.
Who Must Update the SDSs?
Typically, chemical manufacturers will be the ones who update SDSs. Importers may also have to update these documents if their imported chemicals’ SDSs do not conform to the new HazCom Standard. [29 CFR 1910.120(g)(6)]
Manufacturers and importers are required to provide SDSs to employers and distributors with the initial shipment of a chemical or with the first shipment after an SDS has been updated. Thus, once a manufacturer updates an SDS to meet GHS standards, future shipments to purchasers would need a copy of the updated SDS. Manufacturers can either provide these forms with the shipped containers themselves or send them prior to the shipment (e.g., fax or e-mail a form beforehand).
Manufacturers and importers are also required to provide SDSs upon request.
SDS Recordkeeping Requirements for Employers
Employers are required to maintain copies of SDSs on site for each hazardous chemical that their employees could come in contact with. [29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(8)]
Theoretically, employers should be receiving updated SDSs automatically as manufacturers send new shipments. However, if an SDS is not provided with a shipment labeled as hazardous, the employer should obtain one from the manufacturer or importer as soon as possible. [29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(6)(iii)]
If employers never receive a new shipment of a particular hazardous chemical they work with, they can keep the old MSDS on file for that chemical. However, it may be a good management practice to request an updated SDS anyway.
For employers who must train new employees on OSHA’s revised Hazard Communication Standard or provide update training to experienced workers, Lion offers the Hazard Communication Online Course. Now updated to cover new hazard criteria, GHS marks and labels, and the Safety Data Sheet format, the online course is available 24/7 so employees can fit training into their work schedules.
For hazardous materials shippers concerned with how new GHS hazard marks, labels, and classification will affect their legal responsibilities under 49 CFR, Lion will present the live, instructor-led GHS Compliance for Hazmat Shippers Webinar on June 10, from 1 to 3 p.m. ET.