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Top OSHA Workplace Violations – Hazard Communication Standard, General Industry – Regulation 29 CFR 1910.1200

Hazard Communication Standard, General Industry

Regulation 29 CFR 1910.1200

Enforcement from Oct 2018-Sept 2019

Total citations: 4,111

Total inspections: 2,280

Total proposed penalties: $5,074,981

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking – Number 2

Industries most often violating the hazard communication standard:

Specialty Trade Contractors $556,264 (in proposed penalties)

Fabricated Metal Product Mfg. $483,739

Administrative and Support Services $270,410

Nonmetallic Mineral Product Mfg. $259,348

Chemical Mfg. $230,722

Repair and Maintenance $223,266

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods $181,559

Transportation Mfg. $139,977

Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealers $115,722

Furniture and Related Product Mfg. $107,709

Why did OSHA modify the hazard communication standard to adopt to the Globally Harmonized System?

OSHA has modified the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to adopt the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) to improve safety and health of workers through more effective communications on chemical hazards. While the available information has been helpful in improving employee safety and health, a more standardized approach to classifying the hazards and conveying the information will be more effective. The GHS provides such a standardized approach, including detailed criteria for determining what hazardous effects a chemical poses, as well as standardized label elements assigned by hazard class and category. The safety data sheet requirements establish an order of information that is standardized. The harmonized format of the safety data sheets will enable employers, workers, health professionals and emergency responders to access the information more efficiently and effectively, thus increasing their utility.

What are the major changes to the hazard communication standard?

The three major areas of change are in hazard classification, labels and safety data sheets.

Hazard classification: The definitions of hazard have been changed to provide specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures. These specific criteria will help to ensure that evaluations of hazardous effects are consistent across manufacturers, and that labels and safety data sheets are more accurate as a result.

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.

The GHS does not include harmonized training provisions but recognizes that training is essential to an effective hazard communication approach. The revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires that workers be retrained within two years of the publication of the final rule to facilitate recognition and understanding of the new labels and safety data sheets.

For a side-by-side comparison of the current HCS and the final revised HCS please see OSHA’s hazard communication safety and health topics webpage.

What hazard communication standard provisions are unchanged?

The revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is a modification to the existing standard. The parts of the standard that did not relate to the GHS (such as the basic framework, scope and exemptions) remained largely unchanged. There have been some modifications to terminology in order to align the revised HCS with language used in the GHS. For example, the term “hazard determination” has been changed to “hazard classification” and “material safety data sheet” was changed to “safety data sheet.”

Employer Responsibilities

Employers must ensure that the SDSs are readily accessible to employees for all hazardous chemicals in their workplace. This may be done in many ways. For example, employers may keep the SDSs in a binder or on computers, as long as the employees have immediate access to the information without leaving their work area when needed and a back-up is available for rapid access to the SDS—in the case of a power outage or other emergency. Furthermore, employers may want to designate a person(s) responsible for obtaining and maintaining the SDSs. If the employer does not have an SDS, the employer or designated person(s) should contact the manufacturer to obtain one.

Training Requirements

Employers shall provide employees with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area at the time of their initial assignment and whenever a new chemical hazard the employees have not previously been trained about is introduced into their work area. Information and training may be designed to cover categories of hazards (e.g., flammability, carcinogenicity) or specific chemicals. Chemical-specific information must always be available through labels and safety data sheets.

Employees shall be informed of:

  • The requirements of this section;
  • Any operations in their work area where hazardous chemicals are present; and,
  • The location and availability of the written hazard communication program, including the required list(s) of hazardous chemicals and safety data sheets required by this section.

Employee training shall include at least:

  • Methods and observations that may be used to detect the presence or release of a hazardous chemical in the work area (such as monitoring conducted by the employer, continuous monitoring devices, visual appearance or odor of hazardous chemicals when being released, etc.);
  • The physical, health, simple asphyxiation, combustible dust and pyrophoric gas hazards, as well as hazards not otherwise classified, of the chemicals in the work area;
  • The measures employees can take to protect themselves from these hazards, including specific procedures the employer has implemented to protect employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as appropriate work practices, emergency procedures and PPE to be used; and,
  • The details of the hazard communication program developed by the employer, including an explanation of the labels received on shipped containers and the workplace labeling system used by their employer; and the safety data sheet, including the order of information and how employees can obtain and use the appropriate hazard information.

Inspection Procedures for the Hazard Communication Standard

Are end-user employers required to re-label existing stock of containers?

End-users (i.e., employers) with existing stock or who have received shipped containers of hazardous chemicals with HCS 1994 labels (even after the June 1, 2016, final effective date) are allowed to maintain and use those containers with HCS 1994 labels. The end-user must not remove or deface any chemical containers with HCS 1994 labels, unless the end-user immediately marks the containers with workplace labeling. If an end-user receives HCS 2012 labels from an upstream supplier for its existing stock, it is advisable to affix the HCS 2012 label over the HCS 1994 label, although it is not required. The end-user is responsible for training its workers regarding the new label elements.

Is “trade secret” the only compliant wording allowed on a safety data sheet to indicate that an ingredient is being withheld per the trade secret provisions of HCS?

In addition to the use of “trade secret,” OSHA would also accept language such as “confidential,” “confidential business information” or “proprietary” when indicating on an SDS that information is being withheld when that information is subject to trade secret provisions of HCS. [See 77 FR 17474, 17738 (Mar. 26, 2012).]

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