The Impact of GHS and the Revised Hazard Communication Standard on Laboratories

The Impact of GHS and the Revised Hazard Communication Standard on LaboratoriesAccording to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), U.S. laboratories employ more than a half-million workers. There are many recognized hazards associated with the laboratory environment; therefore, both OSHA and industry have taken steps to guard workers from potential chemical exposure.

Many individuals are already aware that OSHA implemented a major revision to the U.S. Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) early last year.  In short, this rulemaking harmonized the HCS with the UN-based Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Laboratory personnel should review the changes to 29 CFR § 1910.1200(b)(3), as they specifically apply to laboratory environments. The revisions include the following mandatory provisions:

  • Employers shall ensure that labels on incoming containers of hazardous chemicals are not removed or defaced; Employers shall maintain any safety data sheets that are received with incoming shipments of hazardous chemicals, and ensure that they are readily accessible during each work shift to laboratory employees when they are in their work areas;
  • Employers shall ensure that laboratory employees are provided information and training in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section, except for the location and availability of the written hazard communication program under paragraph (h)(2)(iii) of this section; and
  • Laboratory employers that ship hazardous chemicals are considered to be either a chemical manufacturer or a distributor under this rule, and thus must ensure that any containers of hazardous chemicals leaving the laboratory are labeled in accordance with paragraph (f) of this section, and that a safety data sheet is provided to distributors and other employers in accordance with paragraphs (g)(6) and (g)(7) of this section.

Laboratories should take note of the third bulleted item, as employers performing the task of shipping hazardous chemicals will be considered a manufacturer or distributor under the revised HCS.

The Laboratory Standard (29 CFR § 1910.1450)

While major changes were not made to the Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories Standard (29 CFR § 1910.1450), it has been revised to conform to the new hazard classification criteria and to incorporate the associated hazard communication elements. Known and referred to in the industry as the “Laboratory Standard,” this regulation was created as a means to protect workers in workplaces where small amounts of hazardous materials are used in a “non-production” facility. The standard ensures that non-production laboratory workers are educated regarding the chemical hazards in their workplace and steps are taken to prevent overexposure to hazardous chemicals (i.e., exposures that are above the OSHA permissible exposure limits). The standard establishes safe work practices in laboratories by requiring the employer to implement a chemical hygiene plan (CHP).

For more information on laboratory safety guidelines can be found on OSHA’s website.

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Labelmaster offers a variety of GHS-related products to help companies begin their transition to the revised hazcom standard, including training programs and manuals, training cards and posters, and pictogram labels. Please contact us for more information on any these products.