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In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews and insights into how contractors and safety managers can be even more effective in protecting their workers.

OSHA Finally Embraces GHS

The deadline for OSHA’s new HazCom labeling standards, based on GHS, is June 1st, 2015. Are you compliant?

OSHA has new requirements for labeling chemicals. In this podcast, HazCom industry expert Chuck Paulausky details these new standards, based on the Globally Harmonized System, GHS.

Most manufacturers already comply with the new labeling standards, so buyers of chemicals—and their employees—are already seeing these new labels. Make sure everyone involved is trained to read them.


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Dan Clark: OSHA took a long time, but they finally have done it. They’ve updated their HazCom labeling standards. Let’s take a look at them.

Hi there, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.

New HazCom labeling standards have landed. The standards that dictate what goes on a label on chemical containers. OSHA took their time but they’ve adopted the Globally Harmonized System—GHS.

Chuck Paulausky: OSHA, finally, after a number of years in dealing with this situation, developed a rule.

Dan: That’s Chuck Paulausky of CP Safety And Environmental. Chuck is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager, and an expert on HazCom labeling. OSHA’s new standards are based on:

Chuck: The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The short term for that is Globally Harmonized System—GHS.

Dan: Chemical manufacturers need to label chemicals with the new designs by June 1st, 2015.

Chuck: Each continent, each country, kind of, had their own requirements. And so, what GHS does, is it puts everybody on the same footing.

Dan: These international standards will help keep workers safe, whatever their native language.

Chuck: In the past, it’s been, kind of, anybody’s best guess as far as what’s required on the labels. There were basic, general requirements. But under GHS, these are very specific what information needs to be there.

Dan: On these new labels you’ll still see a familiar skull and cross bones, exploding bomb, flames and other things, but now they will all have a uniform color scheme.

Chuck: The GHS pictograms that are required on shipping labels are designed with red borders and black images. OSHA and GHS require these to be in color because they’re more recognizable.

Dan: The new label standards for the United States go beyond GHS.

Chuck: OSHA has also added some pre-existing hazard classes that were missing from GHS. Things that OSHA felt were important and so when they adopted the GHS classifications in the US they’ve added a few others. Asphyxiants, pyrophoric gases, combustible dust.

Dan: And there’s more.

Chuck: They’ve also included, because there are other hazards that are not clearly defined—and are certainly not defined under the GHS classifications—they’ve included what’s called HNOC. Hazards Not Otherwise Classified. Kind of a catch all. And that’s to cover pre-existing hazards that don’t meet GHS specifications.

Dan: You’re probably already seeing these labels. Most chemical manufacturers are already using labels with the new standards. Latecomers will have to start no later than June 1st, 2015. In the end, is a good change?

Chuck: I like it a lot.

Dan: That’s Chuck Paulausky of CP Safety And Environmental in Chandler Arizona. Chuck is an industry expert and consultant offering EPA and OSHA compliance support.

That’s all for this episode, OSHA Finally Embraces GHS. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply.


Chemical drum image by Eliud Echevarria / FEMA

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