Hazard Communication and Globally Harmonized System

OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard is designed to protect employees from hazardous chemicals used or stored in the work setting. Also referred to as the Right-To-Know Law, it requires that HazCom training and information be provided to any employees who have the potential of being exposed to a hazardous chemical “under normal condition of use or in a forseeable emergency.”

HazCom training requires the presence of hazardous chemicals be communicated to employees in a variety of ways, including:

  • The hazardous chemical inventory
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) / Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
  • Labels, tags or signs
  • The written hazard communication program

OSHA has issued a final rule to align its Hazard Communication Standard with the Globally Harmonized System of Chemical Classification and Labeling (GHS). The changes focus on:

  • Hazard classification
  • Labeling and marking
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
  • Information distribution and training

Compliance Dates for the Revised HazCom Standard

The revised Hazard Communication Standard, found at 29 CFR 1910.1200, takes effect May 25, 2012 (60 days after publication in the Federal Register). However, OSHA has provided the following extended compliance dates to meet the new requirements. Here’s what you need to do and when:

  • Chemical users: Continue to update safety data sheets when new ones become available, provide training on the new label elements and update hazard communication programs if new hazards are identified.
  • Chemical Producers: Review hazard information for all chemicals produced or imported, classify chemicals according to the new classification criteria, and update labels and safety data sheets.

Effective Completion Date



December 1, 2013

Train employees on the new label elements and SDS format


June 1, 2015*

December 1, 2015

Comply with all modified provisions of this final rule, except:

Distributor may ship products labeled by manufacturers under the old system until December 1, 2015.

Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers

June 1, 2016

Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.


Transition Period

Comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (this final standard), or the current standard, or both.

All chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers

*This date coincides with the European Union implementation date for classification of mixtures.

Copyright 2013 J.J. Keller & Associates Inc.®, P.O. Box 368, 3003 Breezewood Lane, Neenah, WI 54957
Copied by permission.

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