Understanding OSHA GHS

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), establishing an international system for standardizing hazard communication.

All OSHA-regulated products are required to have GHS Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and labels.

Does it affect you?

If you currently have chemical-containing products previously under OSHA regulations, YES!

More than $1.7 trillion worth of chemicals are produced globally every year, including $450 billion in the US. Their widespread use has given rise to sector-specific regulations of chemicals in transport, agriculture, trade and consumer products, among others.

New GHS standards will affect roughly five million workplaces and more than 43 million workers. GHS classifications are based on available chemical data, helping manufacturers, suppliers and/or importers to define the potential physical, health and environmental hazards of their products and/or materials to downstream users.

A proscriptive approach to compliance.

Formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), the new OSHA-compliant GHS SDS is more than a change in name, it is a proscriptive approach to compliance.

Proper classifications throughout the uniform, 16 section format are based on calculations of your product’s chemical ingredients. These calculations help determine the appropriate symbols (pictograms) that should be used in order to convey your product’s type of hazard, standardized signal words that communicate its level of severity as well its respective standardized statements associated with your product in order to describe the nature of its hazard and recommended precautions.

Hazard Communication Safety Data Sheets

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires chemical manufacturers, distributors, or importers to provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) to communicate the hazards of hazardous chemical products.

The HCS requires SDSs to be in a uniform format, and include the section numbers, the headings, and associated information under the headings below:

Section 1: Identification
includes product identifier; manufacturer or distributor name, address, phone number; emergency phone number; recommended use; restrictions on use.

Section 2: Hazard(s) identification
includes all hazards regarding the chemical; required label elements.

Section 3: Composition/information on ingredients
includes information on chemical ingredients; trade secret claims.

Section 4: First-aid measures
includes important symptoms/ effects, acute, delayed; required treatment.

Section 5: Fire-fighting measures
lists suitable extinguishing techniques, equipment; chemical hazards from fire.

Section 6: Accidental release measures
lists emergency procedures; protective equipment; proper methods of containment and cleanup.

Section 7: Handling and storage
lists precautions for safe handling and storage including incompatibilities.

Section 8: Exposure controls/personal protection
lists OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs); Threshold Limit Values (TLVs); appropriate engineering controls; personal protective equipment (PPE).

Section 9: Physical and chemical properties
lists the chemical’s characteristics.

Section 10: Stability and reactivity
lists chemical stability and possibility of hazardous reactions.

Section 11: Toxicological information
includes routes of exposure; related symptoms, acute and chronic effects; numerical measures of toxicity.

Section 12: Ecological information*

Section 13: Disposal considerations*

Section 14: Transport information*

Section 15: Regulatory information*

Section 16: Other information
includes the date of preparation or last revision.

*Note: Since other Agencies regulate this information, OSHA will not be enforcing Sections 12 through 15(29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(2)).

Employers must ensure that SDSs are readily accessible to employees.