“Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious threats facing American workers today,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. “Revising OSHA‘s Hazard Communication standard will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive.”
The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This update to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) will provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. Once implemented, the revised standard will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers by providing easily understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals. This update will also help reduce trade barriers and result in productivity improvements for American businesses that regularly handle, store, and use hazardous chemicals while providing cost savings for American businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the hazard communication standard.
Hazard Communication Standard
In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable to workers. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires the development and dissemination of such information:
- Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers;
- All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately.
Major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard
- Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
- Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
- Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
- Information and training: Employers are required to train workers by December 1, 2013 on the new labels elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding.
- HCS / GHS Final Rule [PDF 2.33 MB]
- Federal Register:The Final Rule will be filed on March 20th at the Office of the Federal Register and available for viewing on their Public Electronic Inspection Desk. The Federal Register will publish the final rule on March 26, 2012. The effective date of the final rule is 60 days after the date of publication.
- Press Release: US Department of Labor‘s OSHA publishes final rule to update the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS)
What is hazard communication? What OSHA standards apply?
Standards | Preambles to Final Rules | Directives | Standard Interpretations
Where may information for hazard determinations be found? What information is available regarding the elements of a hazard communication (HAZCOM) program?
Example Programs | General Resources
What is the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals? What additional information is available?
Related Safety and Health Topics Pages | Other Resources
In Focus Hot Topics
- HCS / GHS Final Rule [PDF 2.33 MB]:
Federal Register: The File Rule will be filed on March 20th at the Office of the Federal Register and available for viewing on their Public Electronic Inspection Desk. The Federal Register will publish the final rule on March 26, 2012. The effective date of the final rule is 60 days after the date of publication.
- Guidance for Hazard Determination for Compliance with the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200). OSHA.
- A Guide to The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). OSHA, (2006, September). Also available as a 759 KB PDF, 90 pages.
- Hazard Communication. OSHA Federal Register Notice 71:53617-53627, (2006, September 12). Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). Also available as a 3 MB PDF, 11 pages.
- Hazard Communication in the 21st Century Workplace – Final Report. OSHA Executive Summary.
- Inspection Procedures for the Hazard Communication Standard. OSHA Directive CPL 02-02-038 [CPL 2-2.38D], (1998, March 20). Additional information is provided in a 87 KB PPT*, 31 slides.
- Guidance for Hazard Determination. OSHA, (2007, May 31).
- Society for Chemical Hazard Communication (SCHC). OSHA Alliance Page.
- HCS / GHS Final Rule [PDF 2.33 MB]:
Frequently Asked Questions
The table below summarizes the phase-in dates required under the revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS):
|Effective Completion Date||Requirement(s)||Who|
|December 1, 2013||Train employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format.||Employers|
|June 1, 2015*December 1, 2015||Compliance with all modified provisions of this final rule, except:The Distributor shall not ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer unless it is a GHS label||Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers|
|June 1, 2016||Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.||Employers|
|Transition Period to the effective completion dates noted above||May comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (the final standard), or the current standard, or both||Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers|