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In its first major change since 1983, the Hazard Communication Standard (OSHA 1910.1200) has adopted the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling (GHS), which transforms workers’ rights about chemical safety from “right to know” to “right to understand.” The regulation requires companies to provide detailed documentation, including safety data sheets (SDS) and product labels, to enable their employees and customers to properly handle and store hazardous chemicals. Originally created by the United Nations, GHS promotes uniform standards for authoring, labeling and document creation in more than 30 countries, and has enabled businesses in those jurisdictions to reduce risk exposure and enhance workplace safety.
IHS product stewardship experts recommend that companies treat GHS as a strategic operational concern, not a regulatory matter, because of the potential impact to manufacturing and product design.
IHS experts suggest that companies consider these factors when incorporating GHS into their operational processes:
- Communicate GHS requirements – Employees will need time to understand how to incorporate GHS-compliant processes into their daily work processes. Also, customers may need training to ensure proper handling and storage of regulated chemicals.
- Develop a work-back schedule – Determine what steps will be required to implement GHS into operational processes, and when to begin the process to ensure compliance within OSHA’s designated transition period.
- Identify and address potential gaps against SDS authoring requirements – GHS requires companies to provide more detailed product information than existing HCS documentation.
- Align product with GHS classifications. Improperly classified products could lose their marketability, so companies are advised to support evaluation processes with relevant product data or product components.
- GHS is complicated – start early.
If you would like to learn more about the IHS solutions for SDS authoring and management to help you comply with the new GHS regulations, please contact us by completing the form on this page.