Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry


October 15 , 2012

United Nations Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

Globally harmonized hazard communication – what’s it all about?

On Sept. 25, 2012, Oregon OSHA adopted federal OSHA’s “Globally Harmonized” hazard communication standard, which is based on the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for classifying and labeling hazardous chemicals.

How has the hazard communication standard changed?

The key changes in the hazard communication standard, which affects chemical suppliers (manufacturers, importers, distributors) and employers whose employees may be exposed to hazardous chemicals, include:

  • Hazard classification: Suppliers must review the chemical hazards in their products, then categorize and classify the hazards following specific criteria for health hazards, physical hazards, and mixtures.
  • Labels: Suppliers must develop new product labels that include signal words, pictograms, and hazard statements for chemicals in each hazard class and category. Employers must ensure that their employees understand the meaning of each element on the new label.
  • Safety Data Sheets: Safety Data Sheets (SDS) will replace Material Safety Data Sheets. Suppliers must prepare Safety Data Sheets for their products that follow a standardized 16-section format in conveying information about a hazardous chemical’s health effects and physical and chemical characteristics.

Implementation dates for the hazard communication standard

Key implementation dates are:

  • Dec. 1, 2013: Employers must train their employees on the elements in the new label system and on the new 16-section Safety Data Sheet format.
  • June 1, 2015: Full implementation of the standard takes effect. Suppliers and employers must comply with all parts of the hazard communication standard.
  • Dec. 1, 2015: Suppliers must re-label their old stock of chemicals. After Dec. 1, 2015, distributors must dispose of the old inventory, send it back to the manufacturer, or put new labels on it before they ship it to a customer.
  • June 1, 2016: Employers must comply with the Safety Data Sheets and labeling requirements for substance-specific rules such as lead and asbestos.


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