Standard Updated To Better Protect Workers, First Responders

Changes to OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard will improve the quality of information on labels, safety data sheets.

On July 19, updates to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard will take effect to better protect workers by improving the amount and quality of information on labels and safety data sheets. The updates will also allow workers and first responders to react more quickly in an emergency. The Department of Labor announced the final rule this week.

Aligned primarily with the seventh revision of the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), the updated standard will require labels on small packaging to be more comprehensive and readable and makes changes to help ensure trade secrets no longer prevent workers and first responders from receiving critical hazard information on safety data sheets.

Hazard Communication Standard
(Photo: Adobe Stock / Prapakorn)

Workers will also benefit from other changes in the updated standard, including:

  • A clearer hazard classification process to provide more complete and accurate hazard information on labels and safety data sheets.
  • Uupdated physical hazard classes to better inform users on safe handling of explosives, aerosols and chemicals under pressure.
  • Updated precautionary statements on how to safely handle, store and dispose of hazardous chemicals.

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The final rule also addresses issues that arose since the implementation of the 2012 standard and improves alignment with other federal agencies and Canada.

Established in 1983, the Hazard Communication Standard provides a standardized approach to workplace hazard communications associated with exposure to hazardous chemicals. OSHA updated the standard in 2012 to align with the third revision of the GHS to provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information.

Watch a short video about the improved rule below. (You can watch in Spanish here).

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