December 1, 2015 is the next deadline for safety professionals to comply with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). OSHA requires from distributors of hazardous chemicals to ship their products only if they are properly labeled under the new GHS format.

In 2012, OSHA updated its hazard communication (HazCom) standard to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), developed by the United Nations. According to OSHA, the main purpose of these changes is to help chemical manufacturers, distributors and importers ensure improved quality and consistency in the classification and labeling of all chemicals, and also enhance worker comprehension. In this way, workers will be better informed about the safe handling and use of hazardous chemicals, which will allow them to prevent injuries and illnesses caused by exposures to hazardous chemicals.

Changes to hazard communication standard require from employers to create and maintain a written program, including a new 16-section format for SDSs (formerly called material safety data sheets, or MSDSs), new chemical label elements and pictograms, standard criteria for classifying chemical hazards, worker access to safety data sheets (SDSs) for those chemicals that are exposed to, and employee training.

This is the third deadline established by OSHA in order to adopt recent GHS (Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labeling of Chemicals) amendments to the hazard communication standard. Updated OSHA’s hazard communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) must be implemented to any workplace where workers can be exposed to hazardous chemicals. The final deadline for full implementation is June 1, 2016. During this pivotal phase in the GHS transition, safety professionals have to comply with the changes to the HazCom Standard.


So the timeline includes the following deadlines and their related responsibilities:

  • Dec. 1, 2013 — Employers train workers on new labels and MSDS formats
  • June 1, 2015 — Chemical manufacturers reclassify chemicals with GHS-formatted shipped labels and safety data sheets
  • Dec. 1, 2015 — Distributors ship hazardous chemicals labeled only in GHS format
  • June 1, 2016 — Employers must be fully compliant with the new GHS provisions


The most common hazard communication violations are:

  • Failure to have a written program;
  • Inadequate employee training;
  • Improper labeling on chemical containers; and
  • Missing or lack of access to SDSs.


If OSHA’s new HazCom Standard covers your business, don’t wait to address the changes GHS brings to your facility HazCom programs.