Adoption of the GHS by OSHA will require OSHA to propose changes to the agency's hazard communication standard, according to the agency.
The GHS is a system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of chemicals by providing a comprehensive approach to defining the health and physical hazards of chemicals, creating classification processes and communicating hazard information through uniform labels and safety data sheets.
The GHS has been adopted by the United Nations with a goal of broad international adoption by 2008. The adoption of the GHS is expected to facilitate international trade by increasing the consistency between the laws in different countries that currently require different information be provided to employers and employees about chemicals during their production, transportation, use and disposal based on jurisdiction.
"GHS is expected to bring more consistency and clarity, both from a national and international perspective, to hazardous chemical regulations in the workplace," OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr. said. "The diverse and sometimes conflicting national and international requirements can create confusion among employers who seek to use hazard information to effectively protect their employees. One of the many benefits of adopting GHS is that it would provide a consistent format for labels and safety data sheets, making the information easier to comprehend and access when making hazard assessments."
To help those who are not familiar with the approach in the GHS, OSHA has prepared a guidance document that summarizes the GHS requirements.
Written comments (in triplicate) must be submitted not later than Nov. 13 to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. H-022K, Room N2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. Electronic comments may be submitted to http://ecomments.osha.gov.