The final rule launching a new Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is being published today in the Federal Register by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to be followed by a 60-day public commentary period. This is the first major updating of the HCS since 1983.

The rule incorporates the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) developed through the auspices of the United Nations but delays full implementation until 2016. Some major points of the new 858-page standard are:

  • Creates a new hazard category for combustible dust
  • Requires Threshold Limit Values (TLV) be referenced on Safety Data Sheets (the GHS name for what OSHA has commonly referred to as Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS))
  • Establishes Dec. 1, 2013 as the date by which all employees must be trained on the new GHS-compliant chemical labels
  • Mandates that manufacturers and importers of chemicals employ the GHS system of labels by June 1, 2015, with some leeway for still shipping products with old-style-GHS labels through Dec. 1, 2015.