Changes to the Hazard Communication Standard

dangerThe Hazard Communication Standard for hazardous labeling is being modified to include a more standardized approach to labeling chemicals.  The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) recommends that standardized symbols and other information appear on the label to ensure proper handling and use of workplace chemicals . Since chemicals are imported and exported throughout the world, a consistent approach to labeling will minimize confusion and problems associated with conflicting international requirements for hazard classifications.

Chemical manufacturers and importers will now need to provide a label that includes a standard signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also appear on the label.

hazard pictograms

Pictograms identifying the chemical and the appropriate hazard warnings

  • A pictogram is a graphic including a symbol, border, background pattern, or color that conveys specific information about the chemical. The symbol appears on a white background surrounded by a red diamond.
  • The signal word – “Danger” or “Warning” – alerts the user to the potential hazard of the chemical.
  • The hazard statement describes the nature of the hazard of the chemical.
  • The precautionary statement gives information about preventing adverse effects from exposure to a hazardous chemical, or improper storage or handling of a hazardous chemical.

Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, or employers who become newly aware of any significant information regarding the hazards of a chemical need to revise the labels for the chemical within six months of becoming aware of the new information. If the chemical is not currently produced or imported, the chemical manufacturer, importer, distributor, or employer must add the information to the label before the chemical is shipped or introduced into the workplace again. Compliance with the final rule is expected by June 1, 2015.

OSHA expects that the labeling changes to the Hazard Communication Standard will reduce the numbers of accidents, fatalities, injuries, and illnesses associated with exposures to hazardous chemicals. For more information about changes to the current HCS, please visit OSHA’s hazard communication safety page.

If you need help with your hazardous labeling, please give us a call at (603) 598-1553, X237.


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