The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA's) Hazard Communication Standard found in 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.1200 was promulgated on November 25, 1983 and became effective two years later. Since that time, the performance-orientated Hazard Communication Standard has been the primary tool for providing employers and employees with information about the chemical hazards in their workplaces
A much-anticipated revision to the Standard was published in the Federal Register on March 26, 2012 and became effective 60 days thereafter on May 25, 2012. One of the most significant changes in this revision was OSHA's adoption of portions of the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) Third Edition. There were three major areas of change – hazard classification, shipped container labels and safety data sheets (SDSs).
However, the parts of the Standard not related to the GHS—basic framework, scope and purpose—remained largely unchanged. The Hazard Communication Standard now requires chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors to provide a shipped container label that has six standardized elements:
The Hazard Communication Standard now requires chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors to provide a shipped container label that has six standardized elements:
- Product Identifier – Must match product identifier on SDS.
- Manufacturer/Supplier Contact Information – Including name, phone number and address.
- Hazard Pictograms – There are nine pictograms used to convey health, physical and environmental hazards. OSHA requires eight of these pictograms, the exception being the environmental pictogram as environmental hazards are not within OSHA's jurisdiction. These pictograms have a black symbol on a white background with a red diamond frame (see illustrations below).
- Signal Word – Either DANGER or WARNING depending upon hazard severity.
- Hazard Statements – Standardized sentences that describe the level of the hazards.
- Precautionary Statements – Steps employees can take to help protect themselves.