Revision of the Hazard Communication Standard to align with GHS affects over 40 million workers in 5 million workplaces. Interestingly, the impetus for developing and adopting GHS was written into the preamble of the original HCS in 1983. It recommended seeking the creation of a global approach to hazard communication to reduce risks from confusing differences in international standards as well as ease the cost and hassle of international trade.
Revisions to OSHA’s HCS to align with GHS result in two major changes. First, unlike HCS, which stops at simply classifying hazards, GHS hazard classes are subdivided into “hazard categories” so that chemical manufacturers must identify both the hazardous effects of their chemicals as well as their degrees of severity. The second key area of change under GHS is to labels and safety data sheets.
GHS safety labels have six standardized elements:
- Product Identifier – Must match product identifier on safety data sheet
- Manufacturer Contact Information – Including name, phone number, and address
- Hazard Pictograms – New label elements that may require color printers
- Signal Word – Either DANGER or WARNING depending upon hazard severity
- Hazard Statements – Standardized sentences that describes the level of the hazards
- Precautionary Statements – Steps employees can take to protect themselves
MSDSs Get a New Look
Under GHS alignment, safety data sheets remain the backbone of HCS compliance. They do, however, get a name and formatting change. GHS drops the M from MSDS and calls them SDSs. More importantly, SDSs have a standardized 16 section format with a required ordering of sections. It is essentially the ANSI Standard for MSDSs with a few adjustments.
Learn more about GHS and OSHA’s revision of HCS to align with GHS by visiting the GHS Answer Center on MSDSonline’s Environmental, Health and Safety Blog.