New Hazard Communication Requirements From OSHA

Last year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adopted a new OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. The new standard is now aligned with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.  All dental and medical providers, pharmacies and other healthcare employers must comply with the Hazard Communication Standard as well as other applicable OSHA standards.

According to OSHA, the main changes to the Hazard Communication Standard include a requirement for chemical manufacturers and importers to determine the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import. Under the new standard, hazard classification provides specific criteria to address health and physical hazards as well as classification of chemical mixtures. Furthermore, chemical labels are now required to have a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category.

The format of safety data sheets (formerly Material Safety Data Sheets) has also changed to now require 16 consistent and user friendly sections for classifying chemicals according to their health and physical hazards.

Compare this latest safety data sheets requirement with the prior standard which permitted chemical manufacturers and importers to communicate hazard information on labels and MSDSs in any format they chose.

As OSHA explained, “[t]he Hazard Communication Standard in 1983 gave the workers the ‘right to know,’ but the new Globally Harmonized System gives workers the ‘right to understand.'”

OSHA requires providers to train employees on the new label elements and SDS format by December 1, 2013.

Our office consults medical and dental practices, pharmacies and other healthcare employers on OSHA compliance matters, assists with annual training and provides legally required OSHA manual and compliance materials.  For more information, please contact us here.