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Stay Compliant: OSHA Updates HazCom Standard to Align with GHS Revision 7

by Jaymie Buckmaster, Safety Specialist

OSHA has recently updated the Hazard Communication (HazCom) Standard to align with the latest version of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), Revision 7, published in 2017. This alignment aims to enhance the consistency and effectiveness of chemical hazard communication across borders, particularly with major trading partners like Canada and the European Union.

The revisions address feedback and issues raised since the previous update in 2012, including clarifications on label requirements for small containers and guidance for very small containers. These adjustments aim to make compliance more practical for businesses while maintaining worker safety standards.

Key Changes in the HazCom Standard

Downstream Uses and Foreseeable Emergencies:

One notable change is the requirement for chemical manufacturers and importers to consider downstream uses and foreseeable emergencies when classifying hazards. This ensures that potential risks associated with the use and handling of chemicals in various workplace scenarios are appropriately communicated.

Harmonization of SDS Requirements:
The update also harmonizes Safety Data Sheet (SDS) requirements with GHS guidelines and Canadian regulations. This alignment allows for greater consistency in hazard communication documentation, facilitating the exchange of chemical information between countries and simplifying compliance for businesses operating internationally.

Overview of the Changes

  • Revised Criteria for Hazard Classification: New criteria for classifying certain health and physical hazards ensure that hazard communication is accurate and comprehensive.
  • Updated Label Provisions: Revisions to the provisions for updating labels, including new labeling requirements for small containers, make compliance more practical for businesses.
  • Trade Secrets and Technical Amendments: New provisions related to trade secrets and technical amendments to the contents of safety data sheets enhance the clarity and usability of hazard information.
  • Updated Definitions: Revisions to definitions of terms used in the standard improve the clarity and understanding of the requirements.

By staying informed about these updates, businesses can better ensure the safety of their workers and maintain compliance with international standards.

Quick Safety Tip:
Remember that HazCom compliance is not “one and done” but an ongoing responsibility. Your written HazCom program is the cornerstone of compliance and needs to cover how you will handle labels and other warnings, SDSs, and employee information and training.