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Changes to OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard

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OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard [29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.1200, (also referred to as the "Right to Know" law] requires manufacturers of chemicals, employers, and employees to take measures to prevent illness or injury that could occur when working with hazardous materials. OSHA has adopted significant changes to this standard to conform to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

Summary of changes

OSHA estimates, over five million workplaces and 43 million employees are going to be affected by the revised Hazard Communications Standard. The majority of the expected changes fall into three areas:

  • Hazard classification: provides more specific criteria for health and physical hazards;
  • Labels: chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide labels conforming to standards that provide across-the-board harmonized information; and
  • Safety data sheets (SDS): will replace Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and now have a specific 16-section format.
Phase-in summary for revised Hazard Communication Standard
Completion date Requirement(s) Who

December 1, 2013

Train employees on the new label elements and SDS format.


June 1, 2015

Compliance with all modified provisions of this final rule, except the distributor shall not ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer unless it is a GHS label.

Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers

December 1, 2015

The distributor shall not ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer unless it is a GHS label.

Chemical 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

As the above table indicates, full compliance with the final rule is not expected until June 1, 2015. However, employers need to abide by the December 1, 2013 date for training their employees on the new label and SDS formats. This training must include details within two principal areas: Labels and SDS.

1. Labels

  • Product identifier
  • Signal word
  • Hazard statement
  • Pictograms
  • Precautionary statement
  • Name, address and telephone number of chemical manufacturer, importer or other responsible party

2. SDS

  • Section 1: Identification
  • Section 2: Hazard identification
  • Section 3: Ingredients information
  • Section 4: First-aid procedures
  • Section 5: Fire fighting procedures
  • Section 6: Accidental-release measures
  • Section 7: Handling and storage
  • Section 8: Exposure controls and personal protection
  • Section 9: Physical and chemical properties
  • Section 10: Stability and reactivity
  • Section 11: Toxicological information
  • Section 12: Ecological information
  • Section 13: Disposal considerations
  • Section 14: Transport information
  • Section 15: Regulatory information
  • Section 16: Other information, including date of preparation or last revision

For more complete information regarding the transition requirements to the revised Hazard Communication Standard, visit the OSHA website.

Information for public sector employers

Public sector employers in Texas are not subject to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. However, the Texas Hazard Communication Act, which is applicable to state and local governments, does reference current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations in terms of labeling and safety data sheets (SDS; formerly MSDS).

Because public sector employers are not under OSHA's jurisdiction, they are not required to train their employees on the new labeling and SDS format by December 1 as private sector employers are. However, public employers are required by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to train employees on how to read and understand the new label and SDS elements at the time that hazardous chemicals are received with the new labels or SDSs. The training must be performed prior to requiring that the employee work with the hazardous chemical.

DSHS has regulatory authority over public sector employers' compliance with the Texas Hazard Communication Act and provides information on its website.  Fact sheets, employee notices, and other publications are also available. For more information about the applicability of the Texas Hazard Communication Act and GHS or this website, call DSHS at (888) 778-9440, ext. 2434.

Other resources

OSHA - Hazard Communication Standard

For more information, contact:

Last updated: 2/9/2024