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Washington Labor & Employment Wire » OSHA Publishes Proposed Revisions to Hazard Communication Standard

OSHA Publishes Proposed Revisions to Hazard Communication Standard


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On September 30, 2009, OSHA published a proposed rule to modify its existing Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). The proposed revisions represent OSHA’s effort to conform the HCS with the United Nations’ globally harmonized system of classification and labeling. OSHA expects that this proposed rule will improve the quality and consistency of information regarding chemical hazards, and their associated protective measures, for employers and employees.     

In its current form, the HCS requires chemical manufactures and importers to examine whether or not the chemicals they produce or import are hazardous. If a chemical is determined to be hazardous, the manufacturer or importer must develop and provide a container label and a safety data sheet to inform employers and employees of the chemical’s hazards and any protective measures associated with the hazard. Employers with hazardous chemicals in the workplace must implement a hazard communication program, which includes hazard identification, labeling, safety data sheets, a written hazard communication program, and employee training.   

Under the proposed rule, employers must provide more detailed and specific classifications for chemical hazards, including the type of hazard present and the severity of the hazard. The proposed rule also requires specific formats for safety data sheets, standardized signal words, pictograms, hazard statements, and precautionary statements for container labels, and employee training on the proposed safety data sheet and container labeling requirements. Because the globally harmonized system does not include a written hazard communication program, OSHA does not propose to make any changes to the existing written hazard communication program requirements.

Comments should be sent to OSHA by December 29, 2009.  Comments may be submitted to OSHA electronically at http://www.regulations.gov/; by fax to the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693-1648; or by mail to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA-H022k-2006-0062, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210.