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US to update Hazard Communication Standard to better protect workers, first responders

20 May 2024

The Department of Labor has announced a final rule from its Occupational Safety and Health Administration that will update the current Hazard Communication Standard to better protect workers by improving the amount and quality of information on labels and safety data sheets and allow workers and first responders to react more quickly in an emergency. The updates take effect on 19 July 2024.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

Aligned primarily with the seventh revision of the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, the updated standard will require labels on small packaging to be more comprehensive and readable and makes changes to help ensure trade secrets no longer prevent workers and first responders from receiving critical hazard information on safety data sheets.

Workers will also benefit from other changes in the updated standard, including a clearer hazard classification process to provide more complete and accurate hazard information on labels and safety data sheets; updated physical hazard classes to better inform users on safe handling of explosives, aerosols and chemicals under pressure; and updated precautionary statements on how to safely handle, store and dispose of hazardous chemicals.

The final rule also addresses issues that arose since the implementation of the 2012 standard and improves alignment with other federal agencies and Canada.

Established in 1983, the Hazard Communication Standard provides a standardized approach to workplace hazard communications associated with exposure to hazardous chemicals. OSHA updated the standard in 2012 to align with the third revision of the GHS to provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information.


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