What is HazCom 2012?

HazCom 2012 is a new hazard communication standard that is designed to make sure that employees who work around hazardous chemicals not only know what they are working with, but also understand the products.  The plan is designed to make hazard communication simple and effective.

In March of 2012, OSHA announced that they will update from Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).  This means that the standards for classifying and labeling chemicals in the United States will be consistent across the U.S. and other countries that follow the GHS model.   This change is required to go into full effect by June 1, 2015 and will result in a safer, more productive workplace.  This global approach to hazard communication can save lives, if employees are trained to identify these new internationally recognized labels and safety data sheets.

Employers have a tighter deadline when it comes to training their employees.  Workers should be trained byDecember 1, 2013.  Employers have a sooner compliance date so workers will recognize the new labels before they are actually in the workplace, instead of after the labels of the potentially harmful chemicals are changed to the international standard.  The process of training employees to recognize these new labels is not standardized, however workers will be required to re-train every two years to keep them up to date on any new safety services standards, labels, and to ensure comprehension.  Training will become a two year renewal standard in the workplace and mandatory for all new employees.

The major changes that will occur are labels with a universal signal word, symbol or picture, and hazard and precautionary statement.  One of the key elements is the pictogram that will communicate danger to employees who may not fully understand the language on the label, or who may be illiterate.  Safety data sheets also will be internationally recognizable and there will be changes to the definitions of hazard classification to include classifications of health hazards, and classification of mixtures.  The standardized criteria will ensure that each manufacturer puts out the same type of labeling for the safety of the worker and consumer.

These new safety services standards referred to as United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System (GHS) will help every employee remain safe through information and understanding, when they are working with chemicals that may harm them.