USA: OSHA Publishes Updated Hazcom Standard

The American Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an updated version of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) at the end of May 2024. For the most part, it has adapted the content to that of GHS Rev.7, the seventh revised edition of the United Nations‘ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

The provisions are legally binding for the classification and labeling of hazardous substances, hazard communication, and the preparation of safety data sheets (SDS).

The regulation comes into force on July 19, 2024. Note that the deadlines for compliance with the regulations are staggered:

  • January 19, 2026 for manufacturers, importers, and distributors of substances
  • July 19, 2027 for manufacturers, importers and distributors of mixtures
  • July 20, 2026 for employers operating sites with substances covered by the HCS Directive
  • January 19, 2028 for employers operating sites with mixtures covered by the HCS Directive

The following are some of the items updated or supplemented:

  • Classification categories for aerosols, desensitized explosives, and flammable gases
  • Hazard and safety instructions
  • Labeling requirements for small containers, with specific requirements for containers with a capacity of 100 ml or less
  • Labeling requirements for packaged containers that have been released for shipment or that constitute a bulk shipment
  • Concentration ranges to be used when the specific concentration of a substance is claimed as a trade secret

The dispute over clearer wording regarding the requirement to disclose hazards arising from the use of chemicals in downstream processes was also resolved. Here, OSHA clarified that upstream suppliers or manufacturers do not have to identify every single hazard arising from the use of chemicals in downstream processes. They must identify only hazards that are foreseeable based on the properties and those that are already known to the manufacturer.

This information must be considered when labeling the product and preparing the SDS.

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