Chemicals, EHS Management, Regulatory Developments

OSHA Proposes Revised HazCom Standard to Conform to GHS

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed rules to modify the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to conform to the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) Revision 7, which is more current than the version of the GHS that’s incorporated into the existing HCS.

GHS and Hazcom, hazard communication

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The HCS, also known as HazCom, is a U.S. regulation that governs the evaluation and communication of hazards associated with chemicals in the workplace.

This action is expected to “address issues that arose during the implementation of the 2012 update to the HCS, and provide better alignment with other U.S. agencies and international trading partners, without lowering overall protections of the standard,” according to OSHA’s proposed rulemaking. “OSHA has preliminarily determined that the proposed revisions to the HCS will reduce costs and burdens while also improving the quality and consistency of information provided to employers and employees regarding chemical hazards and associated protective measures.”

The summary of the rulemaking also states, “The agency has preliminarily determined that the proposed revisions will enhance the effectiveness of the HCS by ensuring employees are appropriately apprised of the chemical hazards to which they may be exposed, thus reducing the incidence of chemical-related occupational illnesses and injuries. The proposed modifications to the standard include revised criteria for classification of certain health and physical hazards, revised provisions for updating labels, new labeling provisions for small containers, technical amendments related to the contents of safety data sheets (SDSs), and related revisions to definitions of terms used in the standard.”

See OSHA’s HCS website for more detailed information regarding these changes.

These updates to the HCS are expected to “improve and enhance worker protection by:

  • Providing additional clarification of existing regulatory requirements
  • Incorporating new hazard classes and categories
  • Improving and streamlining precautionary statements
  • Facilitating international trade through increased alignment.”

Although the GHS’s most current version is Revision 8, published in 2019, OSHA is aligning with the previous version of the GHS, published in 2017.

This regulatory action is expected to affect 115,758 firms; 152,427 establishments; and 1,510,780 employees. However, because the rulemaking is not expected to cost more than $100 million in any one year, it is not considered to be an economically significant action, as defined by Executive Order (EO) 12866.

It is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on February 16, 2021, after which public comments will be accepted for a 60-day period.

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