Uniform Hazardous Materials Labeling and Safety Data Sheets Coming To Your Facility

Frustrated by the hazard labels on containers of disinfectants, cleaners and other hazardous materials used in your workplace?  Would you rather have a root canal than read a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)? Well some changes announced by Federal OSHA might brighten your day.

Last Spring, OSHA revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom) for all workplaces, including healthcare.  HazCom is the OSHA regulation that defines the minimum requirements your employer and chemical manufactures must follow for hazard labels, MSDSs and other elements of informing workers about chemical hazards in their workplaces.

Unions asked for uniform formats for labels and MSDSs during the fight to get OSHA to pass HazCom. But OSHA, then, decided to allow manufactures and employers to use whatever format they wanted. HazCom has been in effect since about 1986 after a ten year fight by unions to gain the “right to know” about chemical hazards for workers in the US.  Before this, workers had no legal right to find out what they were being exposed to on the jobOSHA made this recent change to bring our HazCom requirements in line with international standards. The changes you and most workers will see at your facility will be in uniform labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs):

Training: By December 1, 2013, your employer must have trained all employees on the new label elements and SDS format.

Labels: As of June 1, 2015, all labels will be required to have pictograms, a signal word, hazard and precautionary statements, the product identifier, and supplier identification.

Safety Data Sheets: As of June 1, 2015, new Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) (formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDSs) must be in a uniform format with 16 specific sections, ensuring consistency in presentation of important information.

For more on these coming changes, go to the OSHA HazCom website.

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