What is HCS?
According to OSHA, the purpose of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is “to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are evaluated and details regarding their hazards are transmitted to employers and employees." The premise behind HCS is that employers and employees have the right to know the hazards and identities of the chemicals they are exposed to and what precautions they can take to protect themselves.
OSHA's phase-in period ended on June 1, 2016 for aligning its Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom) with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS), a global hazard communication system developed by the UN that standardizes the way hazardous chemicals are classified and then communicated via safety data sheets and labels. With GHS alignment, the classification of chemicals includes categorizing hazards based on severity, a concept that didn't exist in HazCom 1994. It also means significant changes to safety data sheets and labels.
Labels now have six standardized elements: product identifier, manufacturer information, signal word, pictograms, hazard statements and precautionary statements. Also under GHS, material safety data sheets (MSDSs) are referred to as safety data sheets (SDSs), the 'M' has been dropped. More importantly, these SDSs must now contain 16 sections in a specific order. Because of these changes, employers should expect to receive updated labels and SDSs with inbound shipments of chemicals, resulting in the eventual turnover of their entire safety data sheet library. Learn more about the HCS revision by visiting our GHS Answer Center.
See what the GHS changes mean for labels and SDSs by downloading our GHS / HCS Compliance Checklist and SDS Sample. And if you are looking for an MSDS or a newly formatted GHS SDS, try our MSDS Search tool.
A Top 3 OSHA Violation
HCS violations consistently rank in the top 3 of OSHA’s ten most frequently cited standards list and is the one standard that ranks high across all industries.
Costs of non-compliance include:
- Risk & Liability
- Downtime & Internal Disruption
- Negative Press & Damage to Corporate Image
- Lost Revenues
During an inspection, you will be asked to produce:
- Written HCS Plan
- List/Inventory of Chemicals Used in the Workplace
- Proper Labeling of Chemicals
- MSDS Documents & Employee Access
- Employee Training Specifications