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Back in 2011 we alerted you that OSHA was in process of promulgating a new HazCom standard. It is finally a done deal. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, OSHA finally has a new regulation to unveil to US businesses. They have dubbed this standard HazCom 2012.


If your email inbox is like mine, you’re getting bombarded with promises for Webinars and Seminars on how the standard will affect you.


ECS has begun the review of the standard in its final form and will be offering a free seminar to our clients in the summer of 2012. It is our plan to create a training DVD which clients may choose to purchase in order to train their employees on the new rules. Stay tuned for a date to be announced in May.


In the meantime, you can be working on updating your chemical inventory lists and archiving old MSDS for chemicals you no longer use on-site. This will help you as you start determining which MSDS have been updated with the new Safety Data Sheet (SDS) format and which ones you still have yet to receive from the manufacturer.


This may be a good opportunity to consider if it is time to break down & get an MSDS service. 3E & other systems will solicit MSDS (soon SDS) in the new format for you, flag the ones missing and do all the legwork to update the info in a searchable format. 3E in one of their packages has GHS label templates included.


You may already have some of the new format SDS in your binders now. Some chemical manufacturers (especially the large ones like DuPont and Exxon) have already created their SDS in the new format. If that’s the case, you’ll note that the layout is different, is consistent for all SDS and contains some new information. When ECS offers our free seminar in the summer, we will review the changes to the SDS so that EHS managers understand how to use this new resource.


Labeling is another area that will change substantially with the new rule. There are new pictograms and warning words not previously used in the US. We will review those in the seminar as well. The good news is that we have until June of 2016 to utilize the current labeling system.


All of these changes will involve retraining existing and new employees to the new standard. The good news is that we have until December 1, 2013 to conduct updated training. It is ECS’ plan to offer our clients a very reasonably priced training DVD with hand-outs and trainer resources.


Another area of concern is your company’s Hazard Communication Program. This program will require updating to the new standard by 6/1/2016.


In the meantime, we encourage you to read about the new standard, attend webinars and seminars to increase your comfort level with the new standard. ECS is here to assist you in implementing this updated standard and will be offering support materials in the near future.

For customers with responsibilities to write MSDS (soon to be SDS), you now have access to some new tools for determining toxicity of ingredients in your mixtures or solutions. EPA has just released two databases for your use: Toxicity Forecaster Database and Chemical Exposure Studies Database.


Using Toxicity Forecaster, you can search and download data from 500+ rapid chemical tests conducted on 300+ environmental chemicals. There are an additional 700 chemicals being tested now with data expected to be added to the database soon.




The Chemical Exposure database consolidates human exposure data from studies which collected chemical measurements from homes and childcare centers.


This includes data on the amounts of chemicals found in food, water, air, dust, indoor surfaces and urine.




These resources will be an excellent tool for small-medium size companies designing Safety Data Sheets.


Be sure to bookmark these webpages!

Many ECS clients have emailed and called with questions about the upcoming OSHA Global Harmonization System (GHS) regulation final approval. We always endeavor to keep our clients informed so you won’t be caught off guard when the new regulation is finalized so here is what we know right now.


OSHA originally had the GHS regulation set for their agenda in August and moved it to September. At last check of their website, it appears to still be on the agenda. This rule has over 500 pages of text associated with it and is always subject to change prior to being finalized. So, what we are providing in this article is the information in the draft rule text. This is subject to change with the final rule.


GHS In a Nut Shell

For those of you who just want the bottom line and not a bunch of detail – here’s the skinny. The major changes will be that MSDS will now be called SDS (Safety Data Sheets), they now have a prescribed format and you will need to solicit new sheets from your chemical manufacturers or distributors so that you have updated ones within 3 years of the final rule authorization.

New labels will be required and while the chemical company or distributor will take care of that for new products, you’ll be responsible for relabeling everything you currently have in-house. Finally, your HazCom plan and training will need to be updated and employees will need the updated training within 2 years of the final plan approval.


GHS Standard Details

  1. Chemical Manufacturers & importers will be responsible to classify the hazards associated with their chemicals. Employers may rely on information provided.
  2. Labels
    1. Manufacturers or importers of classified hazardous materials will be responsible to ship materials with labeling which includes:
      • Product identifier(s);
      • Signal word (Danger or Warning);
      • Hazard statement(s);
      • Pictogram(s);
      • Precautionary statement(s);
      • Name, address & telephone number of the chemical manufacturer or importer.
    2. Manufacturers or importers of unclassified hazardous materials must include the following on the label:
      • Name of the chemical;
      • Name, address & phone number of the manufacturer or importer;
      • Supplementary information including the description of the unclassified hazard and precautionary measure to ensure safe handling and use.
    3. Solid metals (i.e., steel beams, or metal castings), solid wood or plastic items not exempted as articles (due to downstream use), may have the label transmitted to the customer at the time of initial shipment and not included with subsequent shipments to the same facility unless the label information changes.This label represents an idea of what some of the new GHS labels might look like. This particular one is being sold by Labelmaster. It appears to incorporate some of the old HMIS label features which is a bit confusing with the new ranking schemes.Once the new regulations are finalized, the label companies will gear up quickly to meet market demands.One possible avenue for handling existing chemical inventory labeling is to purchase some “print your own label” software or to utilize some label printing resources already available through Microsoft Office products. The graphics for the pictograms are available for free on Wikipedia.
    4. Hazardous chemical containers already in the workplace will need to have the labels added which cover the following:
      • i. Product identifier(s);
      • Signal word (Danger or Warning);
      • Pictures or words which provide at least general information regarding the hazards of the chemicals;
      • The employer may use signs, placards, process sheets, batch tickets, SOPs or other written materials in lieu of affixing labels to individual stationary process containers;
      • Employers as well as chemical manufacturers and importers must revise the labels for a chemical within 3 months of becoming aware of new information.
  3. SDS Changes – The Safety Data Sheets will now have standardized sections. This will be a huge help in training and in being able to quickly go to a section for emergency data. The new required format is as follows:
    1. Section 1 – Identification
    2. Section 2 – Hazard Identification
    3. Section 3 – Composition Information on Ingredients
    4. Section 4 – First Aid Measures
    5. Section 5 – Firefighting Measures
    6. Section 6 – Accidental Release Measures
    7. Section 7 – Handling and Storage
    8. Section 8 – Exposure controls/Personal Protection
    9. Section 9 – Physical and Chemical Properties
    10. Section 10 – Stability and Reactivity
    11. Section 11 – Toxicological Information
    12. Section 12 – Ecological Information*
    13. Section 13 – Disposal Considerations*
    14. Section 14 – Transport Information*
    15. Section 15 – Regulatory Information*
    16. Section 16 – Other Information including date of preparation or last revision.
      *Sections 12-15 are outside of OSHA jurisdiction and are non-mandatory.
  4. Your HazCom Program will require some minor changes to include:
    1. Reference to SDS
    2. Reference to labeling requirements
    3. Updated training
  5. Employers must train employees on the new labels and SDS within 2 years of the adoption of the final GHS rule.
  6. New SDS are required by chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers within 3 years after adoption of the final GHS rule.


Since we are in the waiting game you may be asking yourself “what can I do to prepare for the approval of the GHS rule?” I have some suggestions for you to consider:


  • Get an accurate inventory of current chemicals on-site. Rather than assign this duty to a single person, why not have a “chemical identification blitz” for one of your Kaizen or improvement projects?
  • Once you have an accurate chemical inventory, sort through those vast tomes (your MSDS binders) and archive all MSDS which are not currently listed in your chemical inventory. Remember you must retain old MSDS for 30 years after the last use of the product but that doesn’t mean it has to take up space in your active binder. You can create an archive binder or you can scan them into a database for 30 year retention.
  • With the remaining active MSDS, review each to see if they’re already in the new GHS format. Many companies trading internationally have already adopted the GHS format and you may have some SDS in the new format in your binder right now.
  • Create a checklist denoting which chemicals have a GHS compliant SDS on file and which ones must be solicited from the vendor. Check online to see if the vendor already has the new SDS available.
  • You will need to consider labeling options for those chemicals currently on-site at your facility. Until the final rule is approved, the commercial options are sparse. Still, it’s worth discussion the approach your organization wants to take once GHS is approved. Consider a labeling blitz for a fall or winter Kaizen project. Get everyone involved in identifying containers which need the new labels. Don’t forget spray and squeeze bottles!


Once the GHS rule is finalized, ECS will issue an update with further information. We are considering hosting a regulatory update seminar in the fall. Please let us know if this would interest your organization in handling the required changes.

GHS is coming and soon! What is GHS? In a nutshell, it’s the United Nation’s attempt to create a set of regulations to standardize the way the world handles all types of workplace hazards. Given the mobility of our world’s resources as well as our final products and wastes, we must identify materials and communicate their hazards in a streamlined manner.


The US already has very structured employee health, environmental and transportation programs. Other countries took the US regulations and adjusted them to fit their country’s needs (Canada for instance). A surprisingly large number of countries in the UN have little or no regulation in these areas. So when the UN structured Global Harmonization Rules, it was very simple for them to adopt them wholesale. With the US already having elaborate interwoven regulations between OSHA, EPA and DOT, it is much more complex for the US to accept GHS.


The DOT was the first to put GHS into place and now OSHA is attempting to do so as well. OSHA did a lot of homework seeking industry buy‐in before they sought final comments. The OSHA Final Notice for GHS came out in October 2009 and comments are due before the end of the year. OSHA anticipates 12‐18 months to get the rule promulgated (made into law) and another 3 years to phase in compliance.


What does this mean to you? First it may be great news if you’re a regular user of MSDS. They will now have a standardized design with the sections having a specific requirement for given information. OSHA has control over 14 sections in what will now be called Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Other sections may be included but aren’t in OSHA’s jurisdiction.


Labeling will change. The product labels and HMIS/HMIG labels you’re currently using will be altered. We will start using pictograms (some of which we’ve never used before and aren’t very intuitive) and warning statements. As a result of these and other changes in the proposed rule, your HAZCOM (OSHA Hazard Communication) training will need to be updated and overhauled. Don’t worry – you have time to get that done. There is zero incentive to do anything in advance and in fact OSHA has asked companies not to do anything yet.


If you make a product for which you design your own MSDS, you will need to stay up on the latest changes and may want to consider contracting with one of the MSDS service companies such as 3E or MSDS Online. There are a number of other companies as well – these are just some we’ve run across recently.