By December 1st, all companies subject to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom) must ensure that their employees are trained on the HazCom rules adopted from the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for classifying and labeling chemicals. [29 CFR 1910.1200(j)(1)]
OSHA has always required employers to train employees on the dangerous chemicals they work with. But OSHA’s adoption of new rules from the GHS into its HazCom Standard added new criteria that workers need to be trained on.
The GHS is an international system for chemical classification, hazard labeling, and Safety Data Sheet (SDS) formatting. Full implementation of these GHS amendments is scheduled for June 1, 2015, but employees must learn to recognize, read, and understand new HazCom marks, labels, and documentation before the new standards become mandatory in the workplace. In order to ensure the approximately 40 million affected employees are prepared to protect themselves from the hazards in their workplace, OSHA mandated employee training be completed before December 1, 2013.
Who Needs Full or Update GHS Training?
New employees who work with hazardous chemicals need full HazCom training. The standards for the required training can be found at 29 CFR 1910.1200(h).
Those employees who have already received HazCom training in the past will not need to be retrained on all elements. Instead, they need update training explaining how the new GHS elements will affect their job duties.
Topics to Be Covered at a Minimum
At a minimum, employees will have to be brought up to speed on the new format for labels and SDSs. For labels, employees should understand the different components that make up a GHS label, such as signal words, pictograms, hazard statements, and precautionary statements. For example, see a sample of a GHS label for acetone on the right. For SDSs, employees will have to understand the new 16-section format, and what information is found in each of those sections.
GHS has also modified how chemicals are classified under HazCom. Most employees will not need to be trained on the technical details of how to classify a chemical. Although it is not explicitly required, it would be a good policy to brief employees on what new hazards are being regulated, such as combustible dusts and simple asphyxiants, and it may be necessary to remind employees of the other hazard classes since labels and SDSs are based on the chemical’s classification.
Make sure your employees are trained on OSHA’s revised HazCom Standard before the December 1, 2013 deadline! For employee training on the updated standard, we also offer the Hazard Communication Online Course, available 24/7. This online course covers the newly adopted GHS criteria for classifying chemicals, marking and labeling hazards, and using 16-section Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and is designed to satisfy OSHA’s hazard communication training requirement.