What Does the June 1 GHS Compliance Deadline Mean for Your Organization?

ghs compliance deadline
The final GHS compliance deadline is upon us, and older chemical labels such as . What can companies do to make sure that they’re following the new standard?
Image source: Flickr CC user Iqbal Osman

If you’ve taken a close look at your chemical inventory lately, then you may have noticed that recently received containers feature newly designed labels. In 2012, OSHA revised its Hazard Communication Standard to align with the UN’s Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. As part of the new guidance, the agency released a compliance schedule1 and in the time since, deadlines have been reached and passed. In addition to redesigned container labels, the older material safety data sheet (MSDS) format was replaced with the new safety data sheet (SDS) format last year.

Four years may seem like a long time—more than enough time for companies to institute the required changes—but while the changes themselves appear straightforward, their ramifications are not. Take, for example, the reclassification of certain hazardous chemicals. Reclassification could potentially affect safe storage and handling. In practical terms, that means new storage containers may be needed or that employees require further training.

The GHS Compliance Deadline May Require Updates to Your Organization’s Hazard Communication Standard

June 1 marks the final GHS compliance deadline of OSHA’s schedule. In other words, the transition phase is over and all companies must be compliant with GHS. After June 1, OSHA can issue citations, fines and sanctions against non-compliant facilities. The major highlights of the upcoming GHS compliance deadline2 are:

  • Every chemical stored on-site must have an updated SDS.
  • All chemical containers must have GHS-compliant labels.
  • Employees must receive training on newly identified hazards.

The final point, more than anything, provides a timely reminder for why the revisions were made in the first place. GHS is meant to improve worker comprehension about the hazardous chemicals they may come into contact with and to encourage safe storage, handling, and disposal.3 Consistent labeling and classification supports that aim.

Organizations Can Adopt Strategies to Ensure They Can Meet the GHS Compliance Deadline

As previously noted, the changes required by the GHS compliance deadline seem straightforward. Applying them, however, can be overwhelming depending on the size of your organization. Nevertheless, here are a few strategies that companies can use to support their efforts to meet full GHS compliance.

  • Perform a chemical inventory.
    While it appears basic, incidents over the past few years have demonstrated that many facilities are not fully cognizant of chemicals stored on-site. Having an up-to-date chemical inventory is the first step to ensuring that all employees are aware of associated occupational hazards and any necessary safety training.
  • Update safety data sheets.
    At the same the chemical inventory is being conducted, organizations can also determine whether they have all the associated chemical SDSs and if they are the most recent version. Maintaining updated SDSs will allow workers to have access to the most complete information possible regarding any chemicals they may handle in the workplace.
  • Train employees.
    This means not only training them on potential new hazards under GHS, but also what GHS is in the first place. As a result, they’ll be able to identify whether something is non-compliant. Given the size of modern organizations, many of which span the globe, it is crucial that every employee take responsibility of regulatory and safety compliance in order to avoid costly penalties.
  • Make all hazard-related information easily accessible.
    In addition to training employees, companies must ensure that their hazard communication standard is easily accessible. In the past, chemical safety binders were often stored in forgotten locations or even kept in rooms inaccessible by all but a select few. Since laboratory workers are often the first ones to come into contact with hazardous chemicals, it’s important that they be able to access safety information at any time for any reason.

Now that the final GHS compliance deadline is upon us, it would be best if every organization ensure that their chemical management systems are robust and able to support their efforts to adhere to the changes. BIOVIA CISPro is a digital chemical management system that enables companies to meet safety and regulatory compliance. Its cloud-based electronic platform allows users to access important information from any location and at any time. Built-in barcode tracking helps facilities maintain chemical inventory in real-time, from the moment materials come on-site and until their end of life. Its flexible inventory system can even link digital copies of chemical SDSs from within the platform, making them easy to update and maintain.

Is your organization interested in a tool that can streamline your chemical management processes and minimize the pain associated with meeting regulatory compliance? Please contact us today to learn more about BIOVIA CISPro and request a demo.

  1. “Final GHS/hazcom deadline in 2016: Is your company ready?” January 11, 2016, http://www.safetynewsalert.com/final-ghshazcom-deadline-in-2016-is-your-company-ready/
  2. “GHS Chemical Labeling Deadline Looms. Is Your Company in Compliance?” April 15, 2016, http://www.environmentalleader.com/2016/04/15/ghs-chemical-labeling-deadline-looms-is-your-company-in-compliance/
  3. “Understanding the final GHS deadline,” March 27, 2016, http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/13824-understanding-the-final-ghs-deadline