OSHA Proposes New Rule to Update Hazardous Communication Standard


Apr 06, 2021

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed a new rule to update its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align it with the most recent version of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

The proposed modifications include codifying enforcement policies which are already a part of  OSHA’s compliance directive, providing additional information related to the transport of hazardous chemicals, adding alternative labeling provisions for small containers, and implementing new requirements for the preparation of Safety Data Sheets (SDS).

The HCS was last updated in 2012 to align it with the third version of the GHS. These proposed modifications will bring the HCS into better alignment with the seventh (2017) and eighth (2019) versions of the GHS, with the standards of our international trading partners, and with standards in other agencies including the Department of Transportation and the EPA. Unlike the 2012 HCS update which made major changes to the United States hazardous materials regulations and labeling requirements, these modifications will only address specific issues which have changed as a result of new versions of the GHS.

Proposed HCS modifications include:

  • Appendix A (health hazards):
    • Revised health hazard definitions
    • Updated Skin corrosion/irritation and Serious eye damage/eye irritation chapters
    • General updates to hazard classes
  • Appendix B (physical hazards): –
    • Flammable gases – expanding hazard categories
    • Desensitized explosives 
    • Aerosols – including additional hazard category
  • Appendix C (label elements) – New or updated hazards, updated guidance, and precautionary statements
  • Appendix D (SDS) – Updates to SDS Sections 9, 11
  • Implementation of the Standard including:
    • Release for Shipment
      • Purpose is to account for products with long distribution cycles
      • Timing is changed for updating the label when new information becomes available
      • Intended to reduce employee exposure by limiting handling of materials that have already been packaged
    • Small Packages Labelling
      • Abbreviated labelling requirements on immediate container when full label is infeasible for containers
    • Safety Data Sheets
      • Section 2 – clarification of how chemical hazard information is presented e.g. hazard associated with change in chemical’s physical form under normal conditions of use
      • Section 3- trade secrets information
      • Section 8 – clarification on inclusion of PEL, TLV, or other exposure limits for individual ingredients or constituents in mixtures

OSHA is currently accepting comments on its proposed rule until April 19. Comments may be submitted electronically to Docket No. OSHA-2019-0001 at http://www.regulations.gov.