GHS News

On a conference call March 20th, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Dr. David Michaels announced the widely anticipated final rule updating the Hazard Communication Standard which aligns it with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.

OSHA’s 1983 Hazard Communication Standard gave workers the right to know. This update will give them the right to understand as well, noted Dr. David Michaels.

Known as HazCom 2012, some key dates include:

Effective Completion Date



December 1, 2013

Train employees on the new label elements and SDS format.


June 1, 2015*

December 1, 2015

Comply with all modified provisions of this final rule, except:

Distributors may ship products labeled by manufacturers under the old system until December 1, 2015.

Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers

June 1, 2016

Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.


Transition Period

Comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (this final standard), or the current standard, or both.

All chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers

During the transition period to the effective completion dates noted in the standard, chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers may comply with either 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910.1200 (the final standard), the current standard or both.

There are some differences between the proposed rule and the final rule and even the United Nations GHS System, and chemical manufacturers creating labels and MSDSs are urged to read the documents carefully. For example, during the conference call it was noted the OSHA final rule requires label pictograms with a red border for either domestic or international shipments as opposed to the UN required black border for domestic shipments In addition, no blank borders will be permitted.

These and other issues are addressed in the OSHA Question and Answers about the modification to the HCS.

OSHA has published a fact sheet that is available here.

The final rule is available for viewing here.

The Federal Register will publish the final rule on March 26, 2012. The effective date of the final rule is 60 days after the date of publication.

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