New Hazard Communication Standard Aims To Improve Workplace Chemical Safety

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tennessee OSHA announced Dec. 1, as the deadline for all employers in Tennessee and the nation who work with hazardous chemicals to train employees on the changes to the Hazard Communication Standard. The new requirements relating to labeling and safety data sheets are being phased in through 2016; however, the first compliance deadline is rapidly approaching.

This update to the HCS will provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. The major changes to the HCS are as follows:

  • Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
  • Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
  • Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
  • Information and training: Employers are required to train workers by December 1, 2013, on the new labels elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding.

Once implemented, the revised standard will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers by providing easily understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals.

“Exposure to hazardous chemicals is something that affects everyone from construction industry workers to schoolteachers,” said TOSHA Administrator Steve Hawkins. “It is important to have employees recognize hazardous chemical symbols to ensure chemical safety in the workplace.”

To assist employers and employees with meeting this deadline, TOSHA, in conjunction with the University of Tennessee, has developed a video presentation designed to help train employees on the new Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, and the HCS. The video is available to view on TOSHA’s Website at and can be obtained in DVD format from TOSHA for $20 per copy. A Spanish version will be available soon both in DVD format and on the Website. The video will help employers become more familiar with the HCS and will also provide assistance to meet the new training requirements.

TOSHA also has videos available on TOSHA Special Emphasis Programs, Bloodborne Pathogens, Personal Protective Equipment, and Trenching and Excavation.  Contact TOSHA at 800 249-8510 for an order form for the DVD versions. 

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