Hazard Communication and the Transport of Hazardous Materials: Different Systems with Differing Requirements

Based on the confusion among some Labelmaster customers, it seems to us that there is still no small amount of clarification required in industry relating to the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), published in the 29 CFR 1910.1200 and governing workplace hazard communication, and its relationship (or lack thereof) to the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) published in the relevant sections of the 49 CFR and that govern the transport in commerce of hazardous materials (also known as dangerous goods).

Most people affected by the regulation know by now that in 2012, OSHA made the biggest change in its history to the HCS, embracing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Hazardous Chemicals, or GHS. This updated US workplace hazard communication law to mirror in most (but not all) respects the United Nations GHS-based system. Effective December 1st, 2013, federal regulations contained in the HCS specified that affected employees in the United States and its possessions were to have completed training in the following requirements relating to the newly revised Globally Harmonized System (GHS)-based Hazard Communication Regulations:

  •  Recognize and understand the six (6) new required GHS-based label elements
  • Recognize and understand the sixteen (16) new required elements to be present on product Safety Data Sheets (SDS).

Actual changes to labeling on products in shipped containers are permissible now under the new law but not required of manufacturers, importers, and distributors until the deadline of June 1st, 2015, with full implementation expected of all workplaces by June 1st, 2016. Associated changes to the (Material) Safety Data Sheet (MSDS/SDS) system follow the same schedules.
Legal Relation (or not) to Transportation Markings, Labeling and Placards
It is important not to confuse the new labeling requirements for shipped containers under the revised law with the regulations governing the transport in commerce of Hazardous Materials and Dangerous Goods. As noted above, transport is governed by an entirely different set of regulations found in the US 49 CFR Parts 100 – 185, or the applicable international, air, or maritime transport codes. No changes to these regulations have been implemented as a result of the GHS-based Hazard Communication regulation. Shippers should plan on using the same set of rules that they have followed up to this point in time in order to continue to legally ship their products. The new rule applies only to containers used in the workplace by employees—not packages shipped in commerce. Only packages which serve as both the shipping package and as the final use container would require the display of both transport labels and hazard communication labels.

Labelmaster knows that this may be a confusing time for hazmat professionals, especially those who may have “a foot in each door.” Please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance with HCS and HMR issues—we’re here to help!

References: US 29 CFR 1910.1200
US 49 CFR Parts 100 – 185

For more information: See the free GHS webinars located on our GHS products landing page at: www.labelmaster.com/ghs

Labelmaster is a full service provider of goods and services for the Hazardous Materials and Dangerous Goods professional, shippers, transport operators, and EH&S providers. See our full line of solutions at www.labelmaster.com.


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