Changes in Hazard Communication-January 2013

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety 

January 2013

IN THIS ISSUE: Changes in Hazard Communication

The Hazard Communication Standard is OSHA’s second most cited regulation. Since its creation in 1983, manufacturers and importers of chemicals are required to provide hazard information and employers are required to provide that information and as well as training to their employees. Recent changes due to take effect in November, 2013, may soon make it the most cited OSHA standard. 

Due to ever-increasing world commerce, there arose a need to create an agreed upon criteria for classification of chemical hazards, and a standardized approach to label elements and safety data sheets.  This resulted in the United Nation’s publication of the “Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.” OSHA has adopted GHS because the United States is both a major importer and exporter of chemicals.  American workers often see labels and information that are not understood, and with GHS, these problems will be minimized. 

There are three major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard:

  1. Hazard Classification: The definitions of hazard have been changed to provide specific rules for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
  2. Labels:  Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to provide a label that includes a GHS signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
  3. Safety Data Sheets:  MSDS is now SDS. They will have 16 specified sections.

What should you do if you use chemicals?

  • By December 1, 2013, train employees on the new labeling and SDS format.
  • Contact suppliers to update records from MSDS to SDS.
  • Begin to revise your written Hazard Communication program, review hazard classifications and facility labeling consistent with GHS, and provide additional training as needed. (Due 6/1/16)

Initially, the change to GHS will require an investment of time and money, but over the long term it should provide consistent and clearer information about chemicals and result in reduced injuries and cost. For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or visit us at

OccuSafe Environmental and Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health.   OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

This newsletter is published monthly by OccuSafe Environmental and Safety Services, Inc. Feel free to forward it to friends and colleagues.

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