Hazard Communication Gets a Makeover

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication (HAZCOM) standard requirements applicable to concessioners are changing beginning in December 2013. Concessioners must make the changes to maintain regulatory compliance.

"Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious threats facing American workers today," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Soils. The OSHA HAZCOM standard has been in place for many years, and OSHA's general requirements for employers, including concessioners, are as follows. Concessioners must:

  • Develop and implement a written HAZCOM program that meets OSHA requirements;

  • Maintain an inventory of chemicals used and stored in the workplace;

  • Maintain Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for chemicals used and stored in the workplace;

  • Label chemical containers with the name and hazards of the chemical; and

  • Train employees on the HAZCOM program.

In 2012, OSHA revised the HAZCOM, or the "right-to-know" standard, to use an approach called the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This United Nations' vetted revision is meant to improve the quality and consistency of hazard information, making it safer for workers to do their jobs. Many of the HAZCOM requirements concessioners are familiar with remain the same. However, a few requirements have changed:

  • The GHS requires that chemical containers be labeled with a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category; and

  • Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets, have been standardized to include 16 specific sections, making it easier for employees to find important protection information consistently.

Employees must be trained on the new label elements and SDS format by December 1, 2013.

This newly revamped standard is not only an employee's "right-to-know" but also "right-to-understand." To comply with the new GHS requirements, concessioners should take the following steps:

    The 16 Sections of the SDS Cover

    By December 1, 2013

    1. Provide training to employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet format;

    By June 1, 2016

    2. Review and update their HAZCOM programs to incorporate the new GHS labeling and SDS requirements;

    3. Work with employees to re-label containers with the newly required elements;

    4. Obtain new copies of chemical SDSs in the GHS format; and

    5. Provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.

    Concessioners are strongly encouraged to begin implementing the labeling and SDS requirements due in 2016 as soon as possible.

    For more information, OSHA has developed the following resources to clarify the update for employers and employees:

OSHA has developed a Fact Sheet on training requirements, and has free training materials in English and Spanish on its website. If you have questions on implementing the GHS in your concession operations, contact Kat Berry at (202) 513-7153 or Kat_Berry@nps.gov.

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