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New OSHA standards for Safety Data Sheets

Have you noticed new labels on the chemicals in your workplace?

OSHA revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) and published it in the Federal Register in March 2012 (77 FR 17574).

The revision includes two significant changes that impact the workplace right now:
• The use of new labeling elements, and
• A standardized format for Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs).

To help companies comply with the revised standard, OSHA is phasing in the specific requirements over several years, from December 1, 2013 to June 1, 2016.

Workers are already beginning to see the new labels and SDSs on the chemicals in their workplace, so it is critical that employees understand the new label and SDS formats by December 1, 2013.

The minimum required topics for the training that must be completed by that date are:
• Type of information the employee would expect to see on the new labels, including the Product Identifier, Signal Word, Pictogram, Hazard Statement(s), Precautionary Statement(s), Contact Information of the chemical manufacturer, distributor, or importer.
• How an employee might use the labels in the workplace to ensure proper storage of hazardous chemicals, or to quickly locate information on first aid.
• General understanding of how the elements work together on a label. For example, where a chemical has multiple hazards, different pictograms are used to identify the various hazards.
Training on the format of the SDS must include information on:
• Standardized 16-section format, including the type of information found in the various sections. For example, the employee should be instructed that with the new format, Section 8 (Exposure Controls/Personal Protection) will always contain information about exposure limits, engineering controls and ways to protect yourself, including personal protective equipment.
• How the information on the label is related to the SDS.

OSHA’s Hazard Communication website ( has QuickCards and OSHA Briefs to assist employers with the required training. For a copy of the publication, click on:

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