It is estimated that more than 32 million workers are exposed to 650,000 hazardous chemical products in more than 3 million American workplaces.
Chemicals pose a wide range of health hazards (such as irritation, sensitization and carcinogenicity) and physical hazards (such as flammability, corrosion and reactivity). It is important to be aware of the potential effects of the chemicals employees work with each day. This information is provided through supervisors, through written materials such as Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and through training from departments and EH&S.
The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This update to the HCS will provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets.
The EH&S Office provides the required training and refresher classes, along with a template to comply with written program requirements. EH&S answers questions regarding hazards in the work area to provide information on how to protect employees from these hazards.
What is GHS?
- The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.
- GHS is a system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of chemicals.
- Defines health, physical, and environmental hazards of chemicals.
- Creates a classification process and defined hazard criteria.
Why was GHS created?
- The production and use of chemicals is fundamental to all economies.
- Having readily available information on the hazardous properties of chemicals, and recommended control measures, allows the production, transport, use, and disposal of chemicals to be managed safely.
GHS Label Elements
OSHA has updated the requirements for labeling of hazardous chemicals under its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). As of June 1, 2015, all labels will be required to have pictograms, a signal word, hazard and precautionary statements, the product identifier, and supplier identification. This transition process has already begun. It is important that chemical users understand these changes.
Safety Data Sheets
For substances: chemical identity; common name, synonyms, etc.; CAS number, EC number, etc.; impurities and stabilizing additives which are themselves classified and which contribute to the classification of the substance.
For mixtures: the chemical identity and concentration, or the concentration ranges of all ingredients which are hazardous, as defined by the GHS and are present above their cutoff levels.