OSHA’s transition to the new GHS aligned Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom) is not over yet, and there are big compliance deadlines ahead in 2015, but already the agency is making plans to update the HazCom Standard again, to align it with a newer version of GHS.
GHS, the model chemical safety system developed by the United Nations, was first published in 2002. Since then, the UN has revised it five times — approximately every two years. When OSHA first aligned the HazCom Standard to GHS in 2012, it based its alignment on the 3rd edition of the GHS. That put it behind the UN, which was already working on the 5th edition.
Now it looks as though OSHA is ready to play catch up. In the most recent Unified Agenda, a regulatory roadmap published by Federal agencies twice a year, OSHA announced it was working on rulemaking that would align the HazCom Standard to the 6th edition of GHS. In an abstract on the proposed change published on Reginfo.gov, RIN 1218-AC93, OSHA says the changes would be economically significant and lead to additional hazard categories covered by the HazCom Standard.
There are no deadlines associated with the abstract; however, its inclusion in the Unified Agenda does signal OSHA’s intent to tie the HazCom Standard more closely to the UN’s GHS revision process. It also suggests that going forward, chemical manufacturers and employers covered by the HazCom Standard would be wise to keep an eye on OSHA and GHS.