Dec. 1 Training Deadline: New OSHA Global Harmonization Standards


Many employers already know that they are required to maintain material safety data sheets for all hazardous materials in the workplace. You may not be aware, however, that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has revised its hazard communication standard for global consistency and that the first compliance deadline is under a month away.

By December 1, 2013, all employers storing, using or handling hazardous materials must provide workers with training on the new safety data sheet format under the Global Harmonized System.

Who Needs Training
Businesses using consumer-grade chemicals such as paints, printer toner and cleaning supplies are covered under this new rule and must provide their employees with OSHA-compliant training. One exception to the OSHA training is when household products are used in the same manner that a consumer would use and the risk of exposure is not greater than what a typical consumer would experience. In contrast, employees who are required to work with hazardous chemicals in a manner that results in a duration and frequency of exposure greater than what a normal consumer would experience, must receive the training.

In the typical office setting, workers who encounter hazardous chemicals only in non-routine, isolated instances do not need to be trained. Staff working in service centers, IT or environmental services departments must receive training on the GHS if they regularly handle printer toner, cleaning supplies or other chemicals.

How To Comply
Compliance with the training requirement is simple. The Maine Department of Labor has produced a 23-minute video explaining the GHS. In addition to the video, the Maine DOL’s SafetyWorks! offers a presentation, a quiz for employee training and a sample policy and poster for businesses. Employers can use the video and materials for free. The video can be accessed via a link from the SafetyWorks! website or the Maine Community College System website.

Employers should keep records to prove that their staff has taken the required training, should they be inspected by OSHA.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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