Global Harmonized System Accepted by OSHA
As we move closer to the Global Harmonized System for Hazard Communication, there are some things
that you should know…
Communication Standard (HCS)
Chemicals pose a wide range
of health hazards (such as irritation, sensitization, and carcinogenicity) and physical hazards (such as
flammability, corrosion, and reactivity). OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), first issued in 1983, is designed to ensure that
employers provide information about these hazards and associated protective measures to their
The HCS gives workers the
right to know the hazards and identities of the chemicals they are exposed to in the workplace. When workers have
this information, they can participate in their employers' protective programs and take steps to protect
The Right to
Workers have sometimes had difficulty
understanding information presented on safety data sheets (SDSs). In some cases the length and complexity of
the documents have made it difficult for workers to locate important safety
OSHA's harmonized standard will ensure
that workers have access not only to labels and safety data sheets, but also to information that is easier to
find and understand through the use of standardized formats and label elements: signal words, pictograms,
hazard statements, and precautionary statements.
What is the Globally
Harmonized System (GHS)?
The Globally Harmonized System of
Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) provides a single set of harmonized criteria for classifying
chemicals according to their health and physical hazards and specifies hazard communication elements for
labeling and safety data sheets. These criteria and elements will help chemical manufacturers to determine if
a chemical product produced and/or supplied is hazardous and explains how to prepare an appropriate label
and/or safety data sheet.
The GHS is being implemented around the
world in countries such as Australia, the EU, and China. The GHS Document (shown below) provides countries
with the regulatory building blocks to develop or modify existing national programs that address
classification of hazards and transmittal of information about those hazards and associated protective
measures. This helps to ensure the safe use of chemicals as they move through the product life cycle and
around the world.
Hazard Communication Standard
As of June 1,
2015, the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS)
will require pictograms on labels to alert users of the chemical hazards to which they may be exposed. Each
pictogram consists of a symbol on a white background framed within a red border and represents a distinct
hazard(s). The pictogram on the label is determined by the chemical hazard
Hazard Communication Safety Data
The Hazard Communication
Standard (HCS) requires chemical manufacturers, distributors, or importers to provide Safety Data Sheets
(SDSs) (formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDSs) to communicate the hazards of hazardous
chemical products. As of June 1, 2015, the HCS will require new SDSs to be in a uniform format, and include
the section numbers, the headings, and associated information under the headings
1, Identification includes product identifier;
manufacturer or distributor name, address, phone number; emergency phone number; recommended use;
restrictions on use.
2, Hazard(s) identification includes all hazards
regarding the chemical; required label elements.
3, Composition/information on ingredients includes information on
chemical ingredients; trade secret claims.
4, First-aid measures includes important symptoms/
effects, acute, delayed; required treatment.
5, Fire-fighting measures lists suitable extinguishing
techniques, equipment; chemical hazards from fire.
6, Accidental release measures lists emergency procedures;
protective equipment; proper methods of containment and cleanup.
7, Handling and storage lists precautions for safe
handling and storage, including incompatibilities.
8, Exposure controls/personal protection lists OSHA's Permissible
Exposure Limits (PELs); Threshold Limit Values (TLVs); appropriate engineering controls; personal protective
9, Physical and chemical properties lists the chemical's
10, Stability and reactivity lists chemical stability and
possibility of hazardous reactions.
11, Toxicological information includes routes of exposure;
related symptoms, acute and chronic effects; numerical measures of toxicity.
Section 12, Ecological
Section 13, Disposal
Section 14, Transport
Section 15, Regulatory
16, Other information,includes the date of
preparation or last revision.
*Note: Since other Agencies
regulate this information, OSHA will not be enforcing Sections 12 through 15(29 CFR
must ensure that SDSs are readily accessible to employees.
See Appendix D of 1910.1200 for a detailed description of SDS contents.
Communication Standard Labels
OSHA has updated the requirements for
labeling of hazardous chemicals under its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). As of June 1, 2015, all labels
will be required to have pictograms, a signal word, hazard and precautionary statements, the product
identifier, and supplier identification. A sample revised HCS label, identifying the required label elements,
is shown on the right. Supplemental information can also be provided on the label as
The table below summarizes the phase-in
dates required under the revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS):
December 1, 2013
Train employees on
the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format.
June 1, 2015*
with all modified provisions of this final rule, except:
Distributor shall not ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer unless
it is a GHS label
manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers
workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional
employee training for newly identified physical or health
Period to the effective completion dates noted above
with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (the final standard), or the current standard, or
manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers