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Moving Forward With GHS Hazard Communication

Recent reports show that many facilities are still confused about the updated Hazard Communication Standard and what they must do to comply. Click here for an overview of these upcoming requirements and tips for what facilities should do to prepare for a seamless transition.

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Dec. 1 GHS Deadline Has Passed – What Now?

The December 1, 2013 deadline for employers to train workers on changes to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) has come and gone.  Still, reports show many companies have not yet trained employees on the updated “HazCom” rules, which were revised when OSHA adopted international standards from the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, “GHS” for short.  The adoption of new hazard classification criteria, hazard labels, and Safety Data Sheets is changing the way employees nationwide protect themselves from hazardous chemicals encountered on-the-job. 

While OSHA has always required hazard communication training for new workers under its General Industry standards, update training is now required to ensure all workers can recognize and use new hazard labels and Safety Data Sheets. Because some facilities may have already updated their procedures, new hazard labels and Safety Data Sheets have likely entered chemical manufacturers’ and shippers’ supply chains already, making update training critical to employee understanding and safety. 

Managers’ Responsibilities for the Transition

Managers of employees who handle or may be exposed to hazardous chemicals must prepare their operations for the changing Hazard Communication Standard.  Hazard communication plans must be updated, as well as facility procedures. 

Managers are also responsible for updating their employees training so that workers have an understanding of the new label elements, how to read the new Safety Data Sheets, and what risks are posed by hazardous chemicals in their workplace.

Looking Ahead: Upcoming Deadlines

OSHA will phase in the new, GHS-aligned requirements over the next 3 years.  

December 1, 2013: Employers were required to provide update training for employees covering new hazard labels and Safety Data Sheets to help them protect themselves under the revised HCS.

June 1, 2015: Employers must comply with all provisions of OSHA’s revised Hazard Communication Standard, with a labeling exception for distributors.  

December 1, 2015: Distributors may no longer ship products under the old labeling system.

June 1, 2016: Employers must be in full compliance with all provisions of the updated HazCom Standard. Additional employee training must be provided as needed for any new hazards identified between December 1, 2013 and June 1, 2016.  During the transition period, meaning until June 1, 2016, employers may comply with either the current or the revised HCS.

Simplifying the Transition to the New Requirements

Lion Technology offers three web-based training options to help EHS managers prepare their organizations for compliance with the revised HazCom Standard.  The live, instructor-led Preparing for OSHA’s New GHS Rule Webinar covers the new requirements under the GHS adoption. The Managing Hazard Communication Online Course is designed to help employers create a HazCom plan that includes newly adopted rules. The Hazard Communication Online Course covers OSHA’s HazCom Standard, including update training on the new GHS rules. As of December 1, 2013, employers should have provided GHS update training to their employees

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