Summer Doldrums Allow a Chance to Catch up on GHS

Summer is time for slowing down—even for government and industry.  Why not use the time to catch your wave on HCS/GHS compliance?  (BNSF 4895 East @ Ransom, IL, image © 7/2015 by Nikki Burgess; used with permission.)

Summer is time for slowing down—even for government and industry. Why not use the time to catch your wave on HCS/GHS compliance? (BNSF 4895 East @ Ransom, IL, image © 7/2015 by Nikki Burgess; used with permission.)

One of the things that Labelmaster does to stay ahead of regulatory requirements for our customers is to monitor the United States Federal Register each day.  If you don’t know what that is, it can be briefly described as the “book”—it’s an electronic publication, these days; that the federal government uses to give notice of the application of all the regulations that are created, revised, corrected, or otherwise need to be placed before the public eye.  Quite a massive effort, but by staying on top of it each day, Labelmaster is able to keep both our own regulatory experts as well as our valued customers abreast of the “latest & greatest.”  As with many private companies here in our country, the federal government sees a bit of a slowdown in activity over the warm months of summer as employees take vacation.  This is reflected in the size of the Federal Register, which during this time period does tend to shrink a bit as federal agencies undergo the same vacation “brain drain” that affects private business. Looked at one way, it can be a great time to catch up on older regulatory requirements as the pace of new introductions slows.

This year, one great item that you may need “catching up” on is in the implementation of the new provisions of the 2012 Hazard Communication Standard, or HCS.  The 2012 HCS is the regulation issued in May of 2012 by the US Department of Labor’s (USDOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which specifies the harmonization of most US workplace hazard communication requirements with those of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.  On June 1st, 2015, the compliance deadline for chemical manufacturers here in the United States passed—as of that date, all manufacturers shipping chemicals should have them labeled in accordance with the regulations and should have appropriately configured Safety Data Sheets (SDS) available to replace the older, phased out Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).

As with any large undertaking, many companies are finding themselves just a little behind the curve.  One big area that seems to remain a point of confusion is the vital difference between transport labeling and hazard communication labeling.  Communications with our customers continue to indicate that many shippers are having difficulty separating the two requirements.

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.  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 to use the same set of rules that they have followed up to this point in time in order to continue legally shipping 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.”  Use these summer doldrums to your advantage and catch up!  Please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance with HCS and HMR issues—or any other regulatory need.  We’re here to help!

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

For more information:  See the free GHS White Paper and webinars located on our GHS products landing page at:

Another area of concern is the relationship between Safety Data Sheets and Labeling. Here is one way to look at things:

OSHA deliberately designed the new HCS as a sort of “building block system,” and looking at it in that way might be helpful.  First, OSHA directs the manufacturer to classify the chemical, using the classification guidelines specified in the regulation.  Next, OSHA mandates the creation of a new Safety Data Sheet, in which the completed classification of the chemical drives the selection of hazard category assignment and risk severity, the display of pictographic warnings, hazard and precautionary statements, and other more ancillary information.  All of this information should derive directly from classification and be subsequently included on the SDS.  Finally, OSHA directs that a label be created and applied that directly reflects the information represented on the SDS.

Our experience with many customers so far has been that there is a tendency, especially last-minute, to try to create compliant labels before all of the other necessary groundwork is completed—this should be avoided.  Any audit will proceed through the steps as outlined above, and being able to display that sequence will make proving compliance much simpler.  If you have many chemicals, it may be a significant amount of work; however, it’s the summer doldrums!  OSHA is as slowed down as they ever get, so take advantage of the lull before the busy autumn returns and get your GHS house in order.  We can help, whether it’s with labels, SDS’s, or just advice and information.  We hope you’ll visit with us soon.

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



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