The annual angst over Income Tax Deadline Day isn’t the only federal date mandate causing concern this April. There is a seeming whirlwind of confusion amongst American businesses about the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard’s (HCS) deadline dates for compliance with what nearly everyone calls “the GHS.” It’s not really the GHS, by the way. Instead, it’s OSHA’s revised HCS, published in the spring of 2012 as a regulation in the US 29 CFR 1910.1200. It features as its primary goal an alignment with certain aspects of the GHS. If you are just joining the EH&S community and haven’t been familiar with it previously, “GHS” is the acronym for the United Nation’s Globally Harmonized Standard for the Classification and Labeling of Hazardous Chemicals.
Here at Labelmaster we are getting many calls from worried clients who think the sky just may fall on June 1st. Don’t worry! It won’t. Here is the real story of the HCS deadlines, simplified:
12/1/2013: You had to have trained your employees on the revised standard, especially the labeling provisions and the new Safety Data Sheet (SDS) format. If you haven’t done this, you’re late.
6/1/2015: Chemical manufacturers and importers must have new compliant labeling and SDS’s in place for any product they ship to customers.
12/1/2015: Distributors must have new compliant labeling and SDS’s in place for any product they ship to customers. The lag here is to allow distributors to deplete extant stock.
6/1/2016: Everyone that falls under the scope and application of the regulation has to be in compliance with all of its provisions.
Most general industry employers (i.e., you buy your chemicals from someone; you don’t make them yourself) are really just going to be concerned with the first and last deadlines. So as of today, make sure your employees are trained–you are already delinquent if you have not done that. Between now and June 1st, 2016, you should be pestering your vendors for the new labels and SDS’s that they owe you. On June 1st, 2016, you should have an SDS and an updated label for each chemical product that falls under the provisions of the standard. You can invoke some exemptions for containers you use only in your own workplace—see the regulation for exactly how that should work.
Need further info? Here are two resources that can help. First, a link to the rule itself:
Also, here is a link to our “GHS Landing Page.” This site features not only our products, but several no-cost and very comprehensive information resources to assist you with understanding the regulation and how to comply with it:
If you are a chemical manufacturer or importer, then June 1st, 2015 is a big day for you. At this point in time, you should really be at the point of merely tying up loose ends. Your labeling and SDS revisions should be almost complete. If you aren’t quite to that point and need more help—we can do so! Visit us at our website or give us a call to see how.
Lastly, if you are set to travel to the annual conference of the Council on the Safe Transportation of Hazardous Articles (COSTHA) being held in San Diego from April 25th to the 29th, you can attend my comprehensive class on the subject, happening at 1 PM on the 25th. I’ll be happy to see you there and to work with you to address your own specific circumstances. There will also be a “GHS Roundtable” held later in the conference schedule. Interested? Here is a link to the COSTHA site:
And as a final clarifying point: recall that this revised regulation is to be used in reference to the labeling and other provisions required for workplace hazard communication. It is not and will not be used in reference to the provisions for the transport in commerce of hazardous materials/dangerous goods. The “usual suspects” which govern that transport; the US 49 CFR 100 -185, the ICAO TI, and the IMDG Code, are being used in the same way that they always have been. A number of our clients have misconstrued the two differing sets of regulations—be sure that you are using the right regulations for the right requirements!
Labelmaster is a full service provider of products, software, and services to the hazardous materials/dangerous goods transportation and environmental, health, and safety (EH&S) communities. See our full line of solutions at www.labelmaster.com