Last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration revised the hazard communication requirements to adopt international standards concerning the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals and the format of the written descriptions that chemical manufacturers and importers must make available to describe the hazards of their products.
The new written descriptions are called Safety Data Sheets, a change from the prior ones, which are called Material Safety Data Sheets. The new standards require employers to provide training on the new labeling and data sheets to all employees who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals in the workplace. The training must be completed by December 1, 2013.
Because the sweep of the hazard communication requirements is so broad, many employers are subject to the new training requirements. More information is available at OSHA’s website.
States that operate under their own occupational safety and health programs must have requirements that are at least as effective as OSHA’s, but may have different compliance dates. Washington, for example, requires that the new training be completed by June 1, 2014. In contrast, California’s requirements take effect on the same date as OSHA’s: December 1, 2013.