August 2012 - Global Harmonization is Here

No matter where you work, the effects of the world wide standardization of how we deal with chemicals will affect you. The Hazard Communication Standard or HAZCOM as most of us know it has changed. We no longer refer to this section of the standard as the "Right to Know" but as "The Right to Understand". This is a positive shift in our thinking.

So what does all this mean to us here in America? We as a country are signatories to the international agreement and will be cooperating with other countries to standardize aspects of our HAZCOM program. For you and me the requirements for labeling and the creation of Safety Data Sheets are the major changes we will see. The changes include the use of standardized Signal Words and Pictograms.

The SDS will now all be the same when it comes to their layout. First, they will all be done in portrait and they will go from nine sections to sixteen sections. Each section will be in order so you will be able to find things much more easily. The following list shows the new format:

  • Identification of the substance/preparation and the company/undertaking
  • Hazard identification
  • Composition/information on ingredients
  • First aid measures
  • Fire fighting measures
  • Accidental release measures
  • Handling and storage
  • Exposure controls/personal protection
  • Physical and chemical properties
  • Stability and reactivity
  • Toxicological information
  • Ecological information
  • Disposal considerations
  • Transport information
  • Regulatory information
  • Other information

OSHA has already adopted the new system and has generated the necessary changes to the HAZCOM standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200. Changes will be integrated over time. You will be allowed to use both the new and the old system until 2016. The following are what employers need to do and the effective dates:

  • Employees must be trained on new label elements and SDS formats by December 1, 2013
  • All SDS labels will require pictograms by June 1, 2015
  • Final implementation will be required by June 1, 2016

For more information or for a schedule of training courses offered at no charge by SCATS, call toll free 1.877.4SAFENV [1-(877)-472-3368], or visit