OSHA Issues Proposed Rule Updating the Hazard Communication Standard

On Feb. 5, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)  released a proposed rule to update its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align it with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). OSHA is accepting comments on the proposal until 60 days after its publication, which is expected on Feb. 16, 2021.

The current HCS provides a uniform approach to workplace hazard communications associated with exposure to hazardous chemicals. The rule was updated in 2012 to align it with the GHS in order to provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information.

The Proposed Rule

This HCS update aims to help employers improve the quality and consistency of the information recorded on safety data sheets (SDSs) and how they communicate this information to their workers. OSHA believes improved information and communication will increase worker protections and reduce the incidence of chemical-related occupational illnesses and injuries. The proposed modifications include:

  • Revised criteria for classification of certain health and physical hazards;
  • Revised provisions for updating labels;
  • New labeling rules for small containers;
  • Technical amendments related to the contents of SDSs; and
  • Revisions to definitions of terms used in the standard.
Next Steps for Employers

Employers subject to the HCS should review this proposed rule to determine whether it affects their current information and communication processes.  These employers should also continue to monitor OSHA’s website for updates on the proposal.

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