hazcomexclamationOver the next few years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be phasing in certain safety requirements designed to align its Hazard Communication Standard with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. These include new labeling elements and a standardized format for Safety Data Sheets (SDS) (formerly known as “Material Safety Data Sheets”). The changes will improve worker understanding of the hazards associated with hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

The first compliance deadline is December 1, 2013. By that time employers are required to train all employees on new label elements and on the SDS format. Specific training requirements include information on how the hazardous chemical is identified, the use of signal words, the meaning of pictograms, and the reading of hazard and precautionary statements. Employees must be given examples of how to use labels in the workplace and be provided with a general understanding of how the various elements work together on a label. Employees must also be made familiar with the format of the SDS and how the information on the label relates to the SDS. The training must be presented in a manner and language that employees can understand.

A Fact Sheet on the training requirements is available here