OSHA’S New Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) Rule

GHS Adoption in the U.S. – What to Expect When Expecting

It’s been a long time coming, but GHS adoption and the revised hazcom standard finally are here.  Learn how you can prepare for the changes coming down the road.
Mon, 2012-09-10 10:10
Scott Palubinsky

For some time now, safety professionals have been expecting the U.S. adoption of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) to make some pretty significant changes to OSHA’s hazard communication standard. Since the mid-2000s, OSHA and other agencies have been discussing and hosting hearings on GHS and revising the hazcom standard. Now that GHS finally is here with all provisions and deadlines outlined, we can expect a focused effort by safety professionals and OSHA to ensure all requirements and deadlines are met.

The question most EHS professionals ask about the changes underway is: “What do I need to do now to implement hazcom 2012?” It’s a bit of a loaded question, and it depends on the specific needs of an organization. At this point, it isn’t as much a matter of “getting ready” as it is a question of “How am I going to meet all requirements and deadlines?”

The only constant factor every organization must take into consideration is time. By Dec. 1, 2013, OSHA is requiring that all employees be trained on the update to the hazard communication standard, and by June 1, 2015, organizations must be compliant with all modified provisions of hazcom 2012. What you do from here on out will determine if you are successful in hitting the deadlines. But don’t let those seemingly distant dates deceive you – those deadlines can sneak up on you if you aren’t prepared.

How Companies Are Preparing

The first step in approaching GHS is to create a transition plan and start allocating resources directly to your organization’s GHS transition efforts. With that in mind, EHS departments must balance their current workload with everything that needs to be completed to ensure compliance with GHS. This makes putting a comprehensive plan in place all the more valuable to your organization’s successful transition to the new provisions.

Your transition plan should account for:

A timetable – While the dates are set as to when everyone must comply with HazCom 2012, you can control your internal timetable and delivery dates. An evaluation of your internal resources will help to determine schedules and deliverables or if additional investments in personnel or software are necessary in order to hit your goals. Allow for a 6-12 month buffer before each deadline to account for unexpected roadblocks, either internal or external.

Training – You have just 15 short months until your employees must be trained. Compiling training materials now ensures your team will be better prepared and ready to train your current and future employees on new pictogram definitions, signal words, hazard classification categories and H&P statements, along with the new SDS format.
Updating and managing safety data sheets (SDSs) – Plan on updating the majority of your current SDSs as your vendors will start supplying you with safety data sheets much more frequently than you have been accustomed to in the past. Are your internal systems and personnel adequate to support the avalanche of updated safety data sheets flooding your department?

Performing a chemical inventory – This is a valuable tool to assist you and your employees. With an inaccurate inventory, you risk not having the correct SDS or acquiring an SDS for a material that is no longer present, which costs time and money.

Re-labeling secondary containers – Labeling requirements have changed. Changes include the fact that pictograms must be outlined in red and chemical manufacturers and importers must provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category.

The Goal of GHS

The goal of GHS is to create consistency and harmonization of chemical safety documents and hazard communication. First and foremost, hazcom 2012 is a tool to protect employees and anyone handling or exposed to hazardous materials in their workplace. Aside from enhancing worker comprehension of hazards to provide faster and more efficient access to information on the safety data sheets, businesses need to understand that GHS not only is a function of safety, but also a function of business.

Though designed for safety, GHS establishes processes that assist businesses in streamlining their operations. Variations of previous standards often created confusion and the need to author a multitude of documents based on agency, country and a host of additional regulations. Investing in a unified a system globally reduces trade barriers created by various health and safety agencies harmonizing with systems around the world, opening up new opportunities for expansion.

With consistent chemical data and information, your organization also can reduce risk and improve compliance. Indexing data from SDSs will allow organizations to better leverage information to improve risk management programs. This information also can be used for sustainability initiatives, influencing everything from how a product is developed to cross-referencing regulations when entering a new market and analyzing everything from production methods to chemical and environmental impacts.

The “right to understand” is the intent of hazcom 2012. A work force that better understands the hazards presented by a material creates a safer work environment, which benefits employees and businesses. Through training programs and systems that improve the way chemical and hazard information is presented, GHS will have a direct effect on the prevention of workplace accidents and illnesses caused by hazardous materials.

OSHA estimates that the revised hazcom standard could prevent 43 fatalities and 585 injuries and illnesses each year. Money saved from these reductions could total $266 million per year. Furthermore, chemical cost reductions and productivity improvements are set to equate to $585 million per year in costs savings. Overall, OSHA estimates a net annual saving of $754 million per year. Implementing GHS, meanwhile, only costs 12.8 percent of the total savings.

So what do we expect from hazcom 2012? You can expect the new standard to greatly contribute to creating a safer, more efficient working environment and lead to potential cost savings, as well. While the GHS transition may seem overwhelming and taxing to an already full workload, organizations that employ the right mix of people, process and technology should have plenty of runway to adopt the updated standards on time or even ahead of schedule.

Scott Palubinsky is a marketing communications manager with SiteHawk, a leading cloud-based SDS and chemical data management solutions provider offering a complete approach to SDS management, chemical inventory tracking and product sustainability initiatives.

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BPI Announces ANSI Accreditation as a Certifying Body

For Immediate Release
BPI Announces ANSI Accreditation as a Certifying Body

Malta, NY, August 31, 2012 – The Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI), a nationally recognized standards development and credentialing organization, is proud to announce that today it achieved accreditation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a national certifying body. BPI’s accreditation is based on earning ISO 17024 accreditation for its Residential Building Envelope Whole House Air Leakage Control Installer (RBE-WH-ALCI) certification.

“The development and execution of ANSI procedures is a major undertaking, and BPI has committed considerable resources to ensure its success,” said David Hepinstall, BPI Chairman of the Board. “Many organizations develop industry level certifications for technicians within their sector; but achieving accreditation to this international standard means BPI has put in place processes critical to delivering fair exams  at every BPI Test Center across the country.”

ANSI is the U.S. representative of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO 17024 is the international benchmark for personnel certifications across all industries. It sets requirements for organizations that manage the certification of individuals in order to ensure impartiality of operations and reduce any conflict of interest. Under ISO 17024, certifications are developed and administered using international best practices, including cross-disciplinary peer review and industry validation of technical materials.

“This milestone will carry BPI and the contractors it serves well into the future.
It allows us as an organization to continue to grow and provide home performance professionals with the support and resources they need to succeed,” said Larry  Zarker, BPI CEO.

The RBE-WH-ALCI certification is the first of BPI’s suite of certifications to undergo the ANSI accreditation process, and is BPI’s fastest growing certification. Its exam verifies a candidate’s knowledge, skills and abilities to tighten the building envelope to reduce energy loss from air leakage. Such measures also reduce pollutants and allergens through air migration. The exams also verify the candidate’s ability to improve thermal comfort and energy efficiency through the proper installation of dense-pack insulation materials.

BPI’s new Home Energy Professional certifications for Energy Auditor, Retrofit Installer, Crew Leader, and Quality Control Inspector will be the next four certifications BPI submits to ANSI for accreditation under ISO 17024.

ANSI coordinates, facilitates, and promotes the development of voluntary consensus standards that are relied upon by industry, government agencies, and consumers across the United States and around the world. ANSI accredited organizations – and the experts that populate them – work cooperatively to enhance the U.S. quality of life and improve the competitiveness of businesses operating in the global marketplace.

About the Building Performance Institute

BPI is the nation’s premier building performance credentialing, quality assurance and standards setting organization. BPI develops technical standards using an open, transparent, consensus-based process built on sound building science. In 2010 BPI was approved by ANSI as an accredited developer of American National Standards.

BPI offers the following:
* National standards to ensure top quality, consistent protocols are being followed
throughout the home performance and weatherization workforce
* Certification of individuals in building analyst, heating, AC/heat pump, shell/envelope and multi-family designations
* Accreditation of contracting companies committed to delivering quality home performance improvements
* Quality assurance to verify conformance with BPI standards and provide feedback for continuing improvement
* Partnership with testing organizations that deliver BPI services in their market

CONTACT BAOS AT 1-800-718-8639 to find out details on BPI certification !

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Revision to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard


“Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious threats facing American workers today,” said U.S. Secretary of  Labor Hilda Solis. “Revising OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard will improve  the quality and consistency of hazard information, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive.”

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This update to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) will provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. Once implemented, the revised standard will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers by providing easily understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals. This update will also help reduce trade barriers and result in productivity improvements for American businesses that regularly handle, store, and use hazardous chemicals while providing cost savings for American businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the hazard communication standard.

Hazard Communication Standard

In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable to workers. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires the development and dissemination of such information:

  • Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to
    evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers;
  • All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately.

Major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard

  • Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of
  • Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
  • Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
  • Information and training: Employers are required to train workers by December 1, 2013 on the new labels elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding.

Visit OSHA’s Website for more information:



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    EPA fines violators of the Lead RRP Rule

    EPA Fines Violators of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule

    Release Date: 04/05/2012
    Contact Information: Stacy Kika,
    Kika.stacy@epa.gov, 202-564-0906, 202-564-4355

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced three enforcement actions for violations of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) and other lead rules. The RRP rule requires the use of lead-safe work practices to ensure that common renovation activities like sanding, cutting and demolition, which can create hazardous lead dust, are conducted properly by trained and certified contractors or individuals. EPA finalized the RRP rule in 2008 and the rule took effect on April 22, 2010.

    “Exposure to lead can cause serious health problems and
    affects our most vulnerable population, our children,” said Cynthia Giles,
    assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance
    Assurance. “By taking action to enforce lead rules we are protecting people’s
    health and ensuring that businesses that follow the rules have a level playing

    On March 21, 2012, Colin Wentworth, a rental property owner who
    was responsible for building operation and maintenance, agreed to pay $10,000 to resolve violations of the RRP rule. The complaint alleged that Mr. Wentworth’s
    workers violated the rule by improperly using power equipment to remove paint
    from the exterior surface of an 1850’s apartment building he owns in Rockland,
    Maine. The complaint also alleged that the workers had not received any training
    under the rule and that Mr. Wentworth had failed to apply for firm certification
    with the EPA. Because the lead dust had not been properly contained, residents
    were potentially exposed and the dust could have also contaminated the ground
    surrounding the apartment building. Two of the four units in the building were
    rented to recipients of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 8 vouchers and there were at least four children under the age of 18, including one under the age of six, living in the units. The Maine Department of
    Environmental Protection and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also responded to the alleged violations.

    On March 20, 2012, Valiant Home Remodelers, a New Jersey window and siding company, agreed to pay $1,500 to resolve violations from failing to follow the RRP rule during a window and siding replacement project at a home in Edison, N.J. Valiant Home Remodelers failed to contain renovation dust, contain waste, and train workers on lead-safe work practices.

    On February 21, 2012, Johnson Sash and Door, a home repair company located in Omaha, Neb., agreed to pay a $5,558 penalty for failing to provide the owners or occupants of housing built prior to 1978 with an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet or to obtain a written acknowledgement prior to commencement of renovation activities at five homes.The complaint also alleged that Johnson failed to obtain initial certification prior to performing renovations at these residences.

    As required by the law, a company or individual’s ability to pay a penalty is evaluated and penalties are adjusted accordingly.

    These recent actions are part of EPA’s effort to ensure that contractors and individuals follow the RRP requirements and other lead rules to protect people’s health from exposure to lead. Lead exposure can cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death, putting young children at the greatest risk because their nervous systems are still developing.

    More on the settlement: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/tsca/tscaenfstatreq.html

    More about lead: http://www.epa.gov/lead

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