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GHS HazCom Compliance – Then and Now

Guest Contributor on Sep 1, 2015 7:30:00 AM

As part of Prime Advantage, Endorsed Suppliers have been invited to share their insights on the present and future of manufacturing success. In this post, Evan Hardin, National Safety Sales Director from Fastenal Company breaks down the changes in OSHA's HazCom requirements and how they will affect manufacturers.

Remember those big red 3" binders that said “MSDS” on them? Are they still floating around your facility? Maybe they're mounted somewhere on a wall or filed away on a bookshelf in your office? If so, you’re not alone. It’s something we see every day when visiting with our customers! If GHS is a new term to you or your organization, the following will help you understand what you need to do today to be in full compliance with the GHS transition.

change ahead

What is GHS?

GHS stands for Globally Harmonized System and it deals with the classification and labeling of chemicals. GHS is the new OSHA HazCom2012 (29 CFR 1910.1220) standard that's starting to be enforced around the globe. Prior to being adopted into the OSHA HazCom standard, GHS was created by the United Nations in 1992 with the goal of standardizing how chemicals are classified and labeled throughout the world.

Chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors have until 2016 to fully comply with the new regulations. Here is an overview of the deadlines:

December 1, 2013: All employees must be trained on label requirements and safety data sheet (SDS) format

June 1, 2015: Chemical manufacturers must comply with all final rule provisions

December 1, 2015: Chemical distributors must ship containers using GHS-compliant labels

June 1, 2016: Workplace employers must update labeling and HazCom programs as needed; and provide training for any newly identified hazards

GHS is aimed at upstream manufacturers and often requires reevaluation of how chemicals and mixtures are classified for each governing regulatory body, country and/or region. Unfortunately, that often also requires the need to re-issue many of the documents and labels associated with each individual chemical substance.

There 5 main requirements for OSHA’s HazCom2012 / GHS standard for program creation:

  1. Written Hazard Communication Plan
  2. Chemical Inventory Master List
  3. Labels & Warnings
  4. Employee Training
  5. Safety Data Sheet Documents

Many people question the transition to GHS but we should try to keep the changes in perspective as they were designed to minimize the potential negative global impact for future generations. There are over 880,000 hazardous chemicals currently being used in the U.S. and about 43 million workers in over 5 million workplaces are affected. GHS is anticipated to prevent 500 injuries/illnesses and save 43 lives per year, equaling a grand total of $250 million in reduced health and safety risks. Future net benefits are estimated at $556 million dollars per year (GHS Compliance and Training, 2015).

Some of the key differences between the current HazCom Standard and GHS include:

  • Current HCS establishes requirements for the minimum amount of information that must be included on labels and SDS’s, but does not provide specific language on the format in which it can be delivered.
  • Use of visual GHS pictograms is the new method of identifying chemical hazards. Pictograms need to be interpreted through SDS’s and are divided into three hazard classes:
    • Chemical/Physical Risks
    • Health Risks
    • Environmental Risks
  • Label changes include:
    • Product Identifiers: Chemical Name, Code, Quantity, etc.
    • Supplier Information: Manufacturer’s company name and contact information
    • Hazard Statements: Various detailed phrases describing the hazards associated with a specific chemical
    • Precautionary Statements: Measures that should be taken to protect against exposures, improper storage or handling of chemicals
    • Signal Word: One of two signal words alerting hazard level (DANGER and WARNING)
    • Supplemental Information: Any other instructional material that the chemical manufacturer would like to provide
    • Pictograms: 8 different black symbols with a diamond shaped red border that depicts the chemical's hazard classification
  • Secondary Container Labels must coincide with SDS pictogram format (NFPA 704 HMIS) for labeling and are also considered acceptable for workplace containers.

Have faith that you're not alone in needing to get up to speed with the new GHS compliance standards. Be sure to get ahead of the game by taking measures now to make the transition as seamless as possible for your company.

Learn more about training and compliance:

GHS Compliance Guide  Download Here

Topics: Manufacturing, Industry News, Talent and Leadership

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