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Recap: New GHS Labeling Elements and Safety Data Sheets

F Marie Athey OHST

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F Marie Athey OHST | October 20, 2014 | Comments Off on Recap: New GHS Labeling Elements and Safety Data Sheets

Recap New GHS Labeling Elements and Safety Data SheetsThe Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) went into effect approximately a year ago. Why the new labeling? It was revised by OSHA based on the United Nations GHS initiative which is a new method for classifying chemical hazards in a way that they would be internationally understood. For example, say you have international operations involving teams from multiple countries, with more than one language being spoken. During a moment of chemical crisis, everyone should be on the same page in terms of chemical hazard classification. Here are a few highlights about the new GHS standards…

Compliance Timeline

The first major GHS-related change was for employers, who were required to train employees using the new label elements and safety data sheets (SDS). This was to be accomplished by December 1, 2013. Compliance with the new SDS format is set for June 1, 2015 for manufacturers. As a recap of what are required in terms of compliance from now on, here are the major factors:

Labeling Elements Required under GHS

There are six elements that must be included on all chemical labels according to the GHS:

  • Product identifier
  • Signal word
  • Pictogram
  • Hazard statement
  • Precautionary statements
  • Name, address, and telephone number of the manufacturer, distributor, and importer

For the product identifier, this includes listing the name of the chemical, along with the batch or code number on the product label. In addition to being added to the product label, the product identifier must be noted in Section 1 of the SDS. Each label must have one, only one, signal word. If a chemical has more than one signal word, i.e. danger or warning, the most severe must be included solely on the label. A pictogram is the image set in a diamond-shaped frame with a bold red color. Do you currently use a red square frame with an image that is not a pictogram warning? This is not permitted on the label under the new GHS. The pictogram could be an image related to:

  • A skull and crossbones
  • Flame
  • Exclamation mark
  • Exploding bomb
  • Gas cylinder
  • Health hazard
  • Corroding metal
  • A tree in an environment

As for the hazard statement, you must include the nature of the chemical hazard that is potentially involved in the chemical being labeled. This must include any applicable hazards, but you need to combine statements to make clear and concise points. In the case of an emergency, people do not have time to read through paragraphs of redundant information. Make sure this statement is specific to the applicable hazard classification category.

For the precautionary statement, note any measures that must be taken to reduce adverse effects resulting from exposure to the chemical hazard. This could include information on first aid or typical exposure effects. Up-to-date contact information must also be included for each point of contact.

Safety Data Sheets

When the June 2015 compliance requirement is in effect, all SDS must be uniform for each and every chemical in your possession. These SDS will involve 16 sections:

  1. Identification
  2. Hazards identification
  3. Composition/information on ingredients
  4. First aid measures
  5. Fire fighting measures
  6. Accidental release measures
  7. Handling and storage
  8. Exposure controls/personal protection
  9. Physical and chemical properties
  10. Stability and reactivity
  11. Toxicological information
  12. Ecological information
  13. Disposal considerations
  14. Transport information
  15. Regulatory information
  16. Other information

Each piece of data should correlate with the labeling elements, as applicable. Note that sections 12 to 15 are not going to be enforced by OSHA, but employees need to know what these section mean and how they apply.

Ensure that you are not violating any OSHA compliance issues by understanding how the new system operates. You’ll save yourself from a lot of hassle and even fines.

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