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Hazard Communication and the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

Related keywords: chemical hazard communication, Globally Harmonized System - GHS

New Hazard Communication Pictograms
Train workers by June 1, 2014 on the new GHS labeling system. See the "Training & Videos" section for training materials.

Thousands of products and materials found in today's workplaces contain hazardous chemicals that can cause health problems from minor skin irritations to serious injuries or diseases like cancer.

Hazard communication rules were developed to make sure information about inherently hazardous chemicals is provided to employers and ultimately to employees so they become informed about chemical hazards found in the workplace. These rules apply if you:

  • Have employees with potential for exposure to hazardous chemicals at work.
  • Distribute hazardous chemicals to employers.
  • Manufacture (produce) or import hazardous chemicals.

Washington State's Hazard Communication (GHS) Rule, Chapter 296-901, WAC became effective April 15, 2013.

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals has already been incorporated into federal OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard. As a result, you may see new labels on shipped containers of chemicals that display the GHS pictograms and information. Also, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) are starting to be phased out and replaced by newly required Safety Data Sheets (SDSs).  Although content details on labels and SDSs are affected by the GHS, many of the current requirements are not changing. For example, requirements to distribute SDSs, label workplace containers, and train employees will remain the same.

To learn more about GHS in Washington State, read Questions and Answers: Hazard Communication Standard or view the Hazard Communication/GHS Rules Update eLesson.  To learn more about how GHS started, visit OSHA's webpage.

Washington State's new Hazard Communication Standard, WAC 296-901-140, is substantially identical to OSHA's rule and compliance in our state will be phased in on the following schedule:

Implementation / Enforcement Date(s) Requirements Who
June 1, 2014 Train employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format. Employers
June 1, 2015 Compliance with all provisions of the WAC 296-901 final rule, except as listed below: Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers
December 1, 2015 The Distributor must not ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer unless it has GHS (Global Harmonization System) label. Distributors
June 1, 2016 Update alternative workplace labeling and Hazard Communication Program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards. Employers
Transition Period to the effective completion dates noted above.

May comply with the applicable requirements in the following rules:

Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers

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