OSHA Revises the Hazard Communication Standard

Image: GHS Pictograms, source depositphotos.com

On May 20, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published its final rule updating the Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910). The updated Standard includes revised criteria for
classification of certain health and physical hazards; revised provisions for
updating labels; new labeling provisions for small containers; and technical
amendments related to the contents of safety data sheets (SDSs). The updated rule also includes new provisions related to trade secrets and related revisions to definitions of terms used in the standard. The revised Standard takes effect on July 19, 2024.

The Hazard Communication Standard requires that:

    • Chemical manufacturers and importers evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers.
    • Employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately.

The major changes in the revision to the Hazard Communication Standard include:

    • Definitions of terms: OSHA is modifying or adding to the Standard definitions for bulk shipment; combustible dust; exposure/exposed; gas, liquid and solid; hazardous chemical (excluding pyrophoric gas, which is reclassified as a physical hazard in the flammable gases category); immediate outer package; physical hazard; and others.
    • Hazard Classification: For each chemical, the manufacturer or importer shall identify known or reasonably anticipated hazards associated with the chemical’s intrinsic properties, including (a) a change in the chemical’s physical form or (b) resulting from reactions with other chemicals in normal use; both to be disclosed in the chemical’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) but the latter not required to be identified on the chemical label.
    • Labels and Other Forms of Warning: OSHA indicates that hazards from reactions with other chemicals under conditions of normal use are not required to be reported on shipped container labels (required solely on SDS). Labels for bulk shipments of chemicals may either be placed on the immediate container or transmitted with shipping documents or even electronically, providing that the recipient has agreed to receive the label for the hazardous chemical in the alternative manner. In addition, both the Department of Transportation (DOT) pictogram and the Hazard Communication Standard pictogram can appear together on shipped containers. For small containers where the space for legibly including all required label information is minimal, the label on each small container may contain limited information but complete label information must be provided on the outside packaging.

Chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors evaluating chemical substances must comply with the amended provisions of the Standard within 18 months of its effective date, or by January 2026; if evaluating mixtures, the compliance deadline is within 36 months of the effective date or July 2027. Employers must update workplace container labels and their written Hazard Communication Program to comply with the rule revisions and provide any necessary training for newly identified hazards within 24 months following the effective date for substances and within 48 months for mixtures. During the transition, affected manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers may comply with the previous Standard, newly revised Standard or both.

For further information or assistance, please contact T. Cozzie Consulting.