New Occupational Safety and Health Administration Hazard Communication Standard Shifts from “Right to Know” to “Right to Understand”

Posted on Sep 13, 2013

New Occupational Safety and Health Administration Hazard Communication Standard Shifts from “Right to Know” to “Right to Understand”

In an effort to improve safety and health, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently aligned its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). In 1983, the HCS gave workers the “right to know” the hazardous chemicals they use. The updated HCS raises the bar to ensure workers also have the “right to understand” those chemicals and how to work with them safely.

The modified standard is expected to prevent more than 500 workplace injuries and illnesses and close to 50 fatalities annually. Additionally, the standard will result in a reduction to the number of safety data sheet and label updates and simplifies new hazard communication training.

Major changes to the HCS include mandated hazard classifications criteria for chemical manufacturers and importers, new labeling requirements and changes to safety data sheets. Employers subject to the HCS must train workers on the new standard by December 1, 2013.

For more information, including what employers, chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors need to do to comply with the updated standard, visit www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html.