The United Nations is leading a Global Harmonization Initiative, the mandate of which is to create a Global Standard for Hazard Classification and Labeling.  Today each country has their own set of standards and labeling.  Different rules, regulations, and labels create barriers to trade in chemicals and pose significant safety risks, especially for small businesses.  American companies are major importers and exporters of chemicals and creating a global standard will ease the trade barriers and allow for a safer method of transporting hazardous materials.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to support the United Nations initiative.   These revisions will be incorporated into the Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). There will be a phasing-in of the requirements over the next several years.

OSHA Requirements and phase in dates to be aware of are listed below.

  • December 1, 2013 – Employers are required to train their employees on the new label elements and Safety Data Sheet (SDS) format.
  • December 1, 2015 – Compliance with all provisions of the final rulings is required.
  • June 1, 2016 – Employers must update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication programs and provide additional employee training if new health hazards are identified.

First, determine if you are impacted and then contact your safety provider for the tools to help to manage the changing rules!