Handling Chemicals Correctly Is Vital To Safety

Posted by Pekin Insurance on Feb 10, 2014

Chris RaceyDid you know that in each of the last 10 years the hazard communication standard has been on the top 10 most cited regulations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)? In 2012, OSHA implemented changes to the hazard communication standard to help align the U.S. with the international community’s Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This rule became effective on May 25, 2012. This means more changes to a rule that has given a lot of companies problems in the past.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said, "Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious threats facing American workers today. Revising OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive."

The goal of the update to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is to provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. Once implemented, the revised standard will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers by providing information that is easy to understand on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals.

Here are some of the major changes to the existing rule:

  • Hazard Classification: The new rule will provide specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
  • Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements shall also be provided.
  • Safety Data Sheets: (Formerly Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDS) These will now have a specified 16-section format.
  • Information and Training: Employers are required to train workers by December 1, 2013, on the new label elements and safety data sheet format to facilitate recognition and understanding.

Hazard Classifications
10 health hazard categories, 1 environmental hazard category, and 16 physical hazard categories

Health Hazards
• Acute Toxicity
• Skin Corrosion/Irritation
• Serious Eye Damage/Eye Irritation
• Respiratory or Skin Sensitization
• Germ Cell Mutagenicity
• Carcinogenicity
• Reproductive Toxicity
• STOT - Specific Target Organ Toxicity - Single Exposure
• STOT - Repeated Exposure
• Aspiration

Environmental Hazard
• Hazardous to Aquatic Life
- Acute
- Chronic
• Bioaccumulation Potential
- Rapid Degradability

Physical Hazards
• Explosives
• Flammable Gases
• Flammable Aerosols
• Oxidizing Gases
• Gases Under Pressure
- Compressed Gases
- Liquefied Gases
- Refrigerated Liquefied Gases
- Dissolved Gases
• Flammable Liquids
• Self-Reactive Chemicals
• Pyrophoric Liquids
• Pyrophoric Solids
• Pyrophoric Gases
• Self-Heating Chemicals
• Chemicals Which In Contact With Water Emit Flammable Gases
• Oxidizing Liquids
• Oxidizing Solids
• Organic Peroxides
• Corrosive to Metals

Labels will have the following:
• Pictograms
• signal words
• hazard and precautionary statements
• Product Identifier
• Supplier Identification

New pictograms for labels:

16-Section Standardized Safety Data Sheet
All SDSs will have a similar format that consists of the following sections:
• Identification of the substance or mixture and of the supplier
• Hazard(s) identification
• Composition/information on ingredients
• First aid measures
• Firefighting measures
• Accidental release measures
• Handling and storage
• Exposure controls/personal protection
• Physical and chemical properties
• Stability and reactivity
• Toxicological
• Ecological information (non-mandatory)
• Disposal considerations (non-mandatory)
• Transport information (non-mandatory)
• Regulatory information (non-mandatory)
• Other information including information on preparation and revision of the SDS

• Train employees on the new label elements and SDS format by December 1, 2013.
• Provide additional training for any newly identified physical or health hazards by June 1, 2016.

To do list

For Employers:
• Review current hazard communication program and update yours to meet 2012 requirements
• Train employees on the label elements
• Train employees on new SDS format
• Start obtaining the updated SDSs

For Manufacturers:
• Start classification of products
• Develop new labels
• Update safety data sheets
• Help save lives or prevent disease

If you have not found the information you were looking for, here is a helpful page that served as a resource for this blog: https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom.

Chris Racey
Loss Control Representative


Subscribe to our Blog