Deadline approaches for Hazard Communication Standards

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Employer Responsibility Under HAZCOMM 2012: Requirements for Safety Data Sheets

June 1, 2016 is the final implementation deadline for employer compliance with HazComm 2012.

OSHA revised the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) with publication of a Final Rule on March 26, 2012. Of significance to lumber and building material dealers, the revisions aligned the HSC with the United Nation’s Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), creating new format and content requirements for chemical labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). The new SDSs are intended to replace the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) previously in use.

Under the new rule (HazComm 2012), compliant labels must include harmonized signal words, pictograms, and hazard statements for each hazard and category. Precautionary statements must also be included on the label. The new Safety Data Sheet format and content requirements call for a specific 16-section format, replacing the format and look of the now phased-out Material Safety Data Sheets. Additional information on new labels and SDS may be found at OSHA’s Hazard Communication Webpage, and on NLBMDA’s Regulatory Affairs webpage at

HazComm 2012 required employers to provide employee training on the new label and Safety Data Sheet formats by December 1, 2013. NLBMDA held several webinars on the new training requirements and produced the 15-minute DVD, Employee OSHA Training Requirements on Product Label Elements and Safety Data Sheets. Copies of the DVD may be found at NLBMDA’s Online Store at

Lumber and building material dealers should have seen the new labels and should also have begun to receive the new Safety Data Sheets. HazComm 2012 required all new labels and SDSs to be completed by June 1, 2015. Under HazComm 2012, chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors were required to meet the new requirements of the rule by June 1, 2015, except that distributors were allowed to ship containers not labeled with the new labeling format on or after December 1, 2015.

June 1, 2016 Requirements

By June 1, 2016, employers are required to update any alternative workplace labeling of containers with covered hazardous chemicals, update their hazard communication program as necessary (which includes making all required SDSs accessible to all workers), and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards. These are also considered on-going compliance obligations.

The updates anticipated are those associated with the new labeling and safety data sheet format and content requirements. If an employer uses alternative workplace labeling, the labeling must comply with the new HazComm 2012 requirements. Furthermore, if an employer identifies new hazards based on the information found on the new labels and SDSs, the employer must update its hazard communications plan by the June 1, 2016 deadline.

In general, if you are not a manufacturer or importer, and you already have a hazard communication program that complies with the original HCS, you will have limited changes to make related to compliance with the revised standard. (See Small Entity Compliance Guide for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals, page 3.)

Check Your Safety Data Sheets!

Relative to the June 1, 2016 implementation deadline, one aspect of compliance employers should confirm is their responsibility to maintain all required Safety Data Sheets. By June 1, 2016, employers should maintain SDSs for each hazardous chemical in the workplace. The SDSs are intended to replace the old MSDSs.

Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to obtain or develop an SDS for each hazardous chemical they produce or import. Manufacturers, importers and distributors are responsible for ensuring that their customers receive copies of these SDSs at the time of the first shipment, and when an SDS is updated with new and significant information.

Employers must have an SDS for each hazardous chemical which they use. Employers may rely on the information received from their suppliers unless they know the information is incorrect. If you do not receive an SDS automatically, you should request one. If you receive an SDS that is obviously incomplete, you should request an appropriately completed one. Employers must maintain the most current version received for each SDS.

Safety Data Sheets must be readily accessible to employees. Employers must decide what accessibility means in their particular workplace. OSHA acknowledged that some employers will keep SDSs in a binder(s) in a single central location or locations. SDSs may be maintained electronically, and OSHA notes this is not uncommon in workplaces where there are a large number of hazardous chemicals in use. In these cases, there must be a “back-up” system in place in the event of a power outage, equipment failure, or other failure of electronic access. OSHA also acknowledges that when workers must travel between workplaces during a work shift, SDSs may be kept at the primary workplace facility.

In general, the SDS is accessible if a worker can get the SDS when he or she needs it. No matter what system is used, employers must ensure that workers and medical personnel can immediately obtain the required information in an emergency.

Are You Compliant With SDS Requirements?

In order to ensure that you have a current SDS for each hazardous chemical used in your workplace, and that worker access is met, OSHA will look at the following elements of your hazard communication program (See Small Entity Compliance Guide for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals, page 21.) –
Designation of person(s) responsible for obtaining and maintaining SDSs
How you maintain SDSs in your workplace
How workers have access to the SDSs when they are in their work area
Procedures used to follow when the SDS is not received at the time of the first shipment
Is there an SDS for each hazardous chemical used in the workplace? (Your hazard communications program must identify each hazardous chemical used in the workplace.)

Does your hazard communication training include review of the SDS format and use?
Questions? Contact Frank Moore, NLBMDA’s Regulatory Counsel at

Source: NLBMDA

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