In case you aren’t familiar with it GHS stands for Global Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. What we are essentially talking about here is a standardization of all MSDS sheets, not only nationally (within the US) but internationally as well. This means that if I produce anything that has an MSDS sheet associated with it I’m going to have to redo that MSDS sheet (as well as the labels that go on all the products) to conform to the new GHS standard.
Because different countries have different safety standards and requirements, the old MSDSs will have to be updated to give the type of information that each country requires. In the words of the United States Department of Labor “OSHA’s proposal to adopt the GHS will not change the framework and scope of the current HCS but will help ensure improved quality and more consistency in the classification and labeling of all chemicals. This will enhance worker comprehension, resulting in appropriate handling and use of chemicals.” In other words, not necessarily new information, just better information and consistency across the board for all chemicals.
What does this mean?
- 40 million workers are going to be affected by this change in the US alone
- It will impact some 5 million workplaces
- It will require changes and rewriting of some 1 million documents
- It will cost $11 million a year to update all the MSDS sheet (for a total of 3 years)
- It will cost $42 million a year to retrain workers on the new standard
While this may sound like a lot of money, OSHA estimates that the new standard will save 43 lives and prevent 585 injuries and illness a year for an annual savings of $754 million a year.
Take heart if you are in one of these categories, this isn’t going to happen overnight. The proposed time frame at this point in time is 3 years to complete compliance. That should give you a little time to get things straightened out.
You can view “Facts on Aligning the Hazard Communication Standard to the GHS” on the OSHA website.