OSHA’s newly adopted GHS focuses on improved communication, health and safety for workers

OSHA’s newly adopted GHS focuses on improved communication, health and safety for workers

OSHA’s final rule on modifying its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to conform to the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) becomes effective this week* and companies must now begin preparing for implementation of the GHS. 

OSHA believes that the adoption of the GHS will result in clearer, more effective ways of conveying information on hazardous chemicals to employers and employees. “Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious dangers facing American workers today,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Revising OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard will improve the quality, consistency and clarity of hazard information that workers receive, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive in the global marketplace.”

Once implemented, the new standard will affect every U.S. workplace with exposure to hazardous chemicals – approximately 5 million establishments and nearly 43 million employees.  To help facilitate compliance, OSHA has developed a phase-in period prior to the effective completion dates, during which these workplaces may comply with the current standard, the revised standard or both. 

Compliance Timeline (highlighted deadlines):

By December 1, 2013 – Employers must train workers on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format

By June 1, 2015 – Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers must comply with all modified provisions of the final rule

To learn more about how the changes may affect your organization, including how to assess your existing program to determine what modifications are required and how to ensure compliance with the new training and labeling requirements within the deadlines, please contact Stacey Markel at

*According to OSHA, “The Final Rule was filed on March 20th at the Office of the Federal Register and available for viewing on their Public Electronic Inspection Desk. The Federal Register published the final rule on March 26, 2012. The effective date of the final rule is 60 days after the date of publication.”

OSHA Quick Takes provides in-depth information regarding changes

OSHA Press Release announces the HCS modifications

OSHA Hazard Communication FAQs answers common questions about the GHS