What The New Hazcom Standards Mean for Chemical Labeling

OSHA’s 2012 Hazard Communication Standard affects U.S. Chemical Manufacturers and Distributors and how they label their products.

OSHA’s Hazcom 2012 final rule modified the current hazard communication standard. The new standards are aligned with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The new law keeps most basic elements of the old Hazcom standard in place while increasing worker protection by enhancing the requirements for hazard communication and classification.

What are the new GHS standards?

GHS is an internationally agreed-upon system, created by the United Nations. It is designed to use consistent criteria for classification and labeling globally. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the GHS includes criteria for the classification of health, physical and environmental hazards, and specifies what information should be included on labels of hazardous chemicals and safety data sheets (SDS). The United States actively participated in the development of the GHS, and is a member of the UN body established to maintain and coordinate implementation of the system.

The system uses pictograms, hazard statements, and the signal words “Danger” and “Warning” to communicate hazard information on product labels in a comprehensive way. The primary goal of GHS is to better protect human health and the environment by providing chemical users and handlers with enhanced and consistent information on chemical hazards.

The first standard of OSHA’s Hazcom was to be completed by December 1, 2013. Employers were required to have trained employees on the new Hazcom label elements and SDS format.

For the next step in the process, manufacturers have until June 1, 2015. Manufacturers and distributors are to reclassify chemicals and update labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). After Dec. 1, 2015, Distributors can no longer ship chemicals labeled under old Hazcom Standards.

What does this mean for my business?

Chemical manufacturers and distributors have a lot of required labeling changes to make. GHS labeling largely reflects usage by the transportation world. All pictograms are international recognized and are designed to limit the need for language conversion from country to country.

Although, under both the old and new Hazcom rule labeling was a requirement, the new features that will be required on such labels will undergo a radical change. The new law states you have to label your hazards products and you have to follow the guidelines laid out in appendix C of the Hazcom law.

GHS Regulations
  • The label for each hazardous chemical shall include the product identifier used on the safety data sheet.
  • The labels on shipped containers shall also include the name, address and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer or responsible party.
  • The label of each hazardous chemical that is classified shall include the signal ward, hazard statement, pictogram, and precautionary statement specified in C.4 for each hazard class and associated hazard category, except as provided for in C.2.1 through C.2.4

The final implementation date is June 1, 2016 when the entire program must be in place. Employers must update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communications programs as necessary and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.

With the new GHS required labeling changes on the horizon, EPI Labelers can help with a variety of options when it comes to labeling equipment. EPI Labelers are built to stand up in the toughest of environments and our engineered simplicity makes them easy to use and maintain. From flexible packaging to case labeling and almost anything in between, using pre-printed labels or a print-and-apply labeler we have the solution to help you conform to the new GHS standard.

For more information on the GHS changes and how EPI Labelers can help, please visit our page exclusively devoted to GHS Labeling requirements.