OSHA has proposed updates to its hazard communication standard (HCS), the main federal requirement that governs labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) for hazardous chemicals used in US workplaces. The final rule would have multiple updates and likely would require almost all labels and SDSs to be revised. In 2012, OSHA revised the HCS to align with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification of Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). This worldwide system allows for hazard communication and understanding across countries and has been updated ve times since OSHA last revised its rules to align the two systems. Comments on the proposed revisions are due April 19, 2021.

The updates would allow the HCS to coordinate better with the GHS and also address specific issues that OSHA, manufacturers, importers, and employers have encountered since 2012. HCS definitions will be revised to account for changes made elsewhere. Updated definitions will include those for “exposure or exposed,” “hazardous chemicals,” and “physical hazard.” New additional terms and their definitions will include, “bulk shipment,” “combustible dust,” “gas,” “liquid,” “solid,” “immediate outer package,” “Physician or other licensed health care professional (PLHCP),” and “released-for-shipment.” The most notable new definition will be for combustible dust, which OSHA proposes to define as “finely divided solid particles of a substance or mixture that are liable to catch re or explode on ignition when dispersed in air or other oxidizing media.” OSHA has also proposed to amend the required hazard statement for combustible dust in Appendix B of the HCS.

OSHA, Washington, DC, is a government agency that ensures safe and healthful working conditions by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. 4-21