Published on 5/9/2016 12:00:00 AM
To better protect workers from hazardous chemicals, OSHA recently revised its Hazard Communication Standard to align with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification (GHS) chemical labeling system. The goal is to benefit workers by reducing confusion about chemical hazards in the workplace, facilitating safety training and improving understanding of hazards.
The GHS compliance date to fully comply with OSHA’s new safety standard is June 1, 2016. Covered employers must complete these six steps by that date.
- Identify responsible staff.
In order to have a successful program, you must assign responsibility for initial and ongoing activities necessary to comply with the rule. In some cases, these activities may be part of current job assignments. For example, site supervisors are frequently responsible for on-the-job training sessions. Early identification of the responsible employees and their involvement in developing your action plan will result in a more effective program design. Involving affected employees also will enhance the evaluation of the effectiveness of your GHS program.
- Prepare and implement a written GHS hazard communication program.
OSHA requires affected businesses to have a written plan describing how hazard communication will be accomplished in the workplace. The plan does not have to be lengthy or complicated. It must list the chemicals present at your worksite. The program must also describe how the requirements for labels and other forms of warning, safety data sheets, and employee information and training, are going to be met. And it should indicate who is responsible for the various aspects of the program in your facility.
- Ensure containers are labeled.
Chemicals being delivered at your facility, as well as chemicals already at your workplace must have GHS compliant labels. OSHA requires chemical manufacturers, importers, or distributors to ensure that each container of hazardous chemicals leaving the workplace is labeled, tagged or marked with the following information: product identifier; signal word; hazard statement; precautionary statement; and pictogram. It must also have the name, address and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer, or other responsible party./dd>
- Maintain GHS Safety Data Sheets: Have Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for every hazardous chemical in your workplace. Employers must ensure that the SDSs are easily accessible to employees. This may be done in many ways. For example, employers may keep the SDSs in a binder or on computers as long as the employees have immediate access to the information. HRdirect offers a Right to Know Center that includes an SDS binder to store safety data sheets along with a highly visible display.
- Inform and train employees: To ensure employees have the information they need to better protect themselves from chemical hazards in the workplace during the transition period, it is critical that employees understand the new label and SDS formats. Make sure your GHS training materials are current, easy-to-understand and compliant. The GHS/Hazard Communication In-Depth Training Kit includes three DVDs, as well as a CD-ROM with a customizable GHS training PowerPoint presentation. Plus it gives you a quick reference chart and two informational posters to reinforce your hazard communication training.
- Evaluate your program: You must maintain your GHS program so that it is always current to the existing conditions in your facility. If new chemicals are introduced to your workplace, be sure they are labeled correctly, new SDS sheets are obtained and employee training is updated.