Nov 20, 2012 / Written by Woody Myers

Symbols like the one on the right are not only very helpful but in many places, they are also required.  In the coming years, more and more places will need these kinds of warnings clearly displayed.  This effort by the Department of Labor to match the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is “to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are classified, and that information concerning the classified hazards is transmitted to employers and employees.” As you can see, there are some key compliance deadlines coming up:

December 1, 2013
Employers must train employees on how to read GHS formatted labels and safety data sheets.
June 1, 2015
Chemical manufacturers and distributors must complete hazard reclassification and produce GHS styled labels and safety data sheets. Distributors get an additional 6 months to complete shipments of old inventory.
December 1, 2015
Distributors must comply fully with HCS requirements. (Grace period for shipments of old inventory ends.)
June 1, 2016
Employers must be in full compliance with revised HCS, including complete training of employees on new hazards and/or revisions to workplace hazard communication program.

The first one is a year away and the next three are in 2015, so you can be forgiven if you feel like these dates seem far off in the future.  But the American Society of Safety Engineers says don’t delay on addressing GHS compliance.

According to ASSE, EHS professionals are about to be flooded with changes to current MSDS and labels that must be revised, rewritten and republished to comply with new GHS regulations and hazard communication standard. Companies and employees therefore should become familiar with the new globalized product/chemical hazard identifier symbols, which have been redesigned to include a red border.

Not only do the labels need to convey accurate information, they need to withstand harsh conditions like extreme temperatures and corrosive materials that warrant such warnings.  To make sure your company is ready for GHS compliance, contact a product specialist at 1-800-446-1991.