The changes which have been made to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard work to bring together the alignment and communication standards of the United States with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS); improving safety and health protections for America’s workers across the globe. The expectation is that the GHS will prevent injuries and illnesses among workers, save lives and improve trade conditions for chemical manufacturers. WorkSource breaks down some of the more crucial elements of OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard.

Building on the Previous Changes

Previous Hazard Communication modifications included pictograms, classification of chemicals and hazardous material, data sheets and labeling of materials—all of which may be found on OSHA’s Hazard Communication webpage. These changes were to be implemented and all workers trained after December of 2013. Training is to be implemented across all four corners of the globe. The new standard covers over 43 million workers who produce or handle hazardous chemicals in more than five million work industries across the country, including China and Australia. The modification is expected to prevent over 500 workplace injuries and the roughly 40 fatalities that are reported yearly.

The Importance of Global Communication

The Global Harmonized System is just that, harmonized, as such the United States recognizes the need to make sure that all of its workers in the States and overseas are protected. With that U.S. agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the Consumer Product Safety Commission are currently implementing the necessary requirements to be consistent with the United Nations transport requirements. Being consistent across all areas of chemical classification will not only ensure the safety of employees globally but will save businesses over $400 million dollars in productivity improvement and simpler hazard communication training. The globally unified standards across all platforms will ensure workplace safety, quality and consistency, and the proper handling of hazardous materials.

Hazard Communication Completion Dates

All employees currently in the system should have been trained on new standards by December of 2013. New employees will be trained upon hire. All necessary modifications to the final rule need to be made to business wide systems (data sheets etc) by June 2015—distributors shipping products labeled by manufacturers may use the old system until December 1st, 2015. All updates to labeling and hazard communication programs must be made by June 1st, 2016.

Responsible Parties

OSHA has stringent standards, working in conjunction with the GHS to maintain the safety of workers, businesses and trade relations. It is the responsibility of both employer and employee to know the mandates, requirements of handling and safety procedures of all hazard chemical production. If an employee does not feel they have been properly trained, it is the responsibility of the employee to bring this to the attention of the employer. All employers should be made aware of necessary changes to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard. If you need more information, OSHA can help answer any questions regarding appropriate safety protocols and are available via email and by phone.

WorkSource takes the safety of your work environment seriously. It is our business to stay informed about important updates that may affect your business. For more information on OSHA safety standards contact our team at WorkSource today.

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