MSDS Authoring for GHS Compliance: Chemical Manufacturers Urged to Start Updating Safety Data Sheets

OSHA’s Revision of Hazard Communication Standard to Align with GHS Brings Big Changes to MSDSs

CHICAGO (August 16, 2011) — MSDSonline, a leading developer of on-demand (SaaS) EH&S compliance management solutions, is issuing a recommendation to all hazardous chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors to begin MSDS authoring activities for GHS compliance. The recommendation is based upon OSHA’s plan to revise the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals known as GHS. OSHA alignment with GHS will necessitate the updating of all material safety data sheets used in the U.S.

GHS is a worldwide standardized approach to chemical hazard communication supported by the United Nations and regulatory agencies around the globe including OSHA in the United States and Health Canada in Canada. OSHA announced in July that it is preparing to publish a final rule as early as September 2011 to align the HCS with GHS. GHS is comprised of three main components:

  • Standardized hazard classification, definitions and symbols
  • Standardized MSDS format and content (Known as SDSs under GHS)
  • Standardized hazard warnings and symbols on container labels

“Countries that adopt GHS create new compliance obligations for businesses that manufacture, transport, handle or otherwise use hazardous chemicals. This will hold true for the United States,” said Glenn Trout, president and CEO of MSDSonline. “Once HCS is revised, chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors will need to reclassify their hazardous chemicals, and produce new safety data sheets and labels to reflect the reclassification and conform to GHS formats. We recommend companies begin authoring GHS compliant safety data sheets now.”

Under the updated HCS, material safety data sheets will be referred to as safety data sheets (SDSs) and have strict formatting requirements. This means even for chemicals that change little under GHS classification criteria, a new SDS will almost certainly be necessary.  And, even though OSHA has not published its final rule, it will be based upon the United Nation's Third Revision of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS Rev 3), which provides detailed instructions on how to create GHS compliant safety data sheets.

MSDSonline Authoring Professionals Can Help

To that end, MSDSonline offers a full range of MSDS authoring services.  It’s trained and certified professionals can author original MSDSs, update existing MSDSs, translate new or existing MSDSs, and even review existing inventories of MSDSs to ensure all documents are in compliance with current regional regulations.  All safety data sheets go through a critical review and quality assurance process to ensure complete accuracy.  MSDSonline employs the most experienced regulatory chemical experts and utilizes robust authoring technology to ensure MSDSs comply with all local, national and international regulations, including GHS, 16-section ANSI, OSHA, WHMIS, EU, NAFTA and other global formats.

“Now’s the perfect time for chemical producers to update their MSDSs,” said Mike Flynn, MSDSonline’s VP of product development. “We are seeing a lot companies trying to get ahead of the HCS revision.  For our customers, they’re making their changes now because they know it's risk free.  If OSHA changes something substantial in its final rule compared to what’s been proposed from GHS Rev 3 – we’ll make adjustment to the SDSs at no extra cost.”

Once written or updated, safety data sheets must be made available to every downstream user, including employees, distributors and customers. MSDSonline also offers solutions for managing safety data sheets and creating GHS compliant safety labels.

About MSDSonline
Founded in 1996 and based in Chicago, MSDSonline is a leading provider of cloud-based EH&S compliance solutions, offering products and services for managing safety data sheets, reporting workplace incidents, training employees and administering other critical EH&S information.  The company’s mission is to provide sustainable solutions that help customers improve employee safety, streamline compliance recordkeeping and reduce potential exposures to workplace hazards and risks. MSDSonline has been recognized for the last six years on Inc. magazine’s list of America’s 5,000 fastest-growing private companies. More information is available online at and on the official company blog at MSDSonline is an ICG (Nasdaq: ICGE) company.

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