ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has revised standards for hazardous communications over the past few years to be more in-line with the Global Harmonized System, which is used world-wide.

This update to the Hazard Communication Standard provides a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets.

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 requires the development and dissemination of information.

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

The major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard include:
• Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
• 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, uniform format. Each section will be numbered by the heading and contain associated information.
• Information and training: Employers are required to train workers on the new label elements and safety data sheet format to facilitate recognition and understanding.

Each shop should have a Safety Data Sheet binder readily available for employees. The binder should contain an index of hazardous materials used and stored in the shop. Each SDS should be easily located by numerical tabs in the binder.

The sheets are standardized with specific information, which, overall, helps employees find information easier.

Each SDS has standard headings for:
1.  Identification
2.  Hazard identification
3.  Composition/information on ingredients
4.  First-aid measures
5.  Fire-fighting measures
6.  Accidental release measures
7.  Handling and storage
8.  Exposure controls/personal protection
9.  Physical and chemical properties
10. Stability and reactivity
11. Toxicological information
12. Ecological information
13. Disposal considerations
14. Transport information
15. Regulatory information
16. Other information

Employees must be familiar with the hazardous materials in their work area and the protective measures necessary for their safe use.

Although 16 paragraphs is a lot of information on a hazardous material for an employee to know, don't get overwhelmed by it.

Being familiar with the hazardous materials used in your work area could help you identify material changes or additional hazards such as flammability, reactivity, corrosiveness or the toxicity, which is located in the second paragraph, Hazard Identification.

The fourth paragraph, First-aid Measures, is important information to know in the rare occasion you or a co-worker are exposed to the hazardous material.

Paragraph eight, Exposure Controls/Personal Protection, is where you can find safe work practices and the required personal protective equipment to use while handling the hazardous material.

If a hazardous material or chemical used in your work area does not have a SDS in the binder, look for a copy on the Safety Office's intranet site. The SDS Repository allows employees to view and print the manufacturer's SDS.

Click on the SDS icon on the page and sort or search for the item you're looking for, either by name or National Stock Number. Clicking on the SDS number will allow you to view or print the document.

The Hazard Communication Standard requires pictograms on labels to alert users of the chemical hazards to which they may be exposed. Each pictogram consists of a symbol on a white background framed within a red border which represents a distinct hazard. The pictogram on the label is determined by the chemical hazard classification.

OSHA has a "Quick Card" located at www.osha.gov/Publications/HazComm_QuickCard_Pictogram.html. There you can view the pictograms and their meanings, such as:

Flame
• Flammables
• Pyrophorics
• Self-Heating
• Emits Flammable Gas
• Self-Reactives
• Organic Peroxides

Corrosion
• Skin Corrosion/Burns
• Eye Damage
• Corrosive to Metals

Exclamation mark
• Irritant (skin and eye)
• Skin Sensitizer
• Acute Toxicity
• Narcotic Effects
• Respiratory Tract Irritant
• Hazardous to Ozone

Gas cylinder
• Gases Under Pressure

Health hazard
• Carcinogen
• Mutagenicity
• Reproductive Toxicity
• Respiratory Sensitizer
• Target Organ Toxicity
• Aspiration Toxicity