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K-State Today

April 26, 2012



OSHA's final rule for global harmonization of the Hazard Communication Standard: What universities need to know

By Steve Galitzer

The Campus Safety, Health, Environmental Management Association will present a webinar at noon May 3. The webinar will be shown in the department of environmental health and safety training room, 011 Edwards Hall.

Program description. This webinar will review OSHA’s revised Hazard Communication Program as it applies to universities. Additionally, the presenters will offer tools and resources that our members can use to assist with implementing the new requirements of the standard. The Kansas State University Hazard Communication Standard will be changed accordingly and training will be provided.

Revised Hazard Communication Standard. On March 20, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration announced the release of the final rule updating the Hazard Communication Standard. The Hazard Communication Standard is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The major difference between the two standards is that the old Hazard Communication Standard gave us the right-to-know whereas the revised standard gives us the right-to-understand. To assist universities with understanding the requirements of the revised standard, the Campus Safety, Health, Environmental Management Association will provide a webinar detailing the effects that the revised standard will have on university campuses.

Major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard

  • Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
  • Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements will also be provided.
  • Safety Data Sheets: Formally called Material Safety Data Sheets, they will now have a specified 16-section format.
  • Information and training: Employers are required to train workers by Dec. 1, 2013, on the new labeling elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding.

The biggest impact for those of us who conduct Hazard Communication training will be developing new training for the new hazard classes and labels. No longer will the same chemical have different hazard descriptions from different manufacturers. Additionally, the hazard classes and definitions will now be aligned between federal agencies: The U.S. Department of Transportation has already aligned their regulations with Globally Harmonized Systems, and EPA will be adopting Globally Harmonized Systems soon. The health hazard descriptions will now be in Appendix A and physical hazards in Appendix B. The new hazard classes are further divided into categories; chemicals posing the most serious hazards are assigned to Category 1. Each category has a required pictogram, signal word, hazard statement and precautionary statement that must be on the label and the SDS. In preparation for these changes, OSHA has been working with the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety to prepare training on symbols and pictograms that can be used by workplaces.

Manufacturers and distributors will have three years to change their labels and Safety Data Sheets. They will be required to ship the new Safety Data Sheets with their next shipment. Employers should automatically receive new Safety Data Sheets just as they do now when an Material Safety Data Sheet is updated. Workplaces will not be required to solicit new Safety Data Sheets to comply with the new regulation.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this webinar, participants will understand:

  • The changes OSHA made to the Hazard Communication Standard
  • What the new hazard classes and categories mean
  • How the new label elements will effect training
  • How the changes in the Safety Data Sheet format will make training easier and provide users with consistent information
  • What other OSHA regulations are affected by these changes
  • When the new program and training must be completed
  • Where to go for additional resources