All employers, including home health and hospice, are reminded that employee training on the revised hazard communication labels and data sheets must be completed by December 1, 2013.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), aligning it with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The revised HCS will be fully implemented in 2016 and benefit workers by reducing confusion about chemical hazards in the workplace, facilitating safety training, and improving understanding of hazards, especially for low literacy workers.
OSHA's standard will classify chemicals according to their health and physical hazards, and establish consistent labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) for all chemicals made in the United States and imported from abroad.
As of June 1, 2015, all labels will be required to have pictograms, a signal word, hazard and precautionary statements, the product identifier, and supplier identification. OSHA is requiring that employees are trained on the new label elements - e.g.,pictograms and signal words - and SDS format by December 2013, while full compliance with the final rule will begin in 2015.
Many countries are in various stages of implementing the GHS, OSHA believes that it is possible that American workplaces may begin to receive labels and SDSs that are consistent with the GHS within the next year. It is important to ensure that when employees begin to see the new labels and SDSs in their workplaces, they will be familiar with them, understand how to use them, and access the information effectively.
Although home health and hospice employees do not typically handle toxic substances there may be instances where precautionary measures need to be taken. For example, many germicidal cleaning wipes that are frequently used are considered carcinogens and irritants which require that gloves be used, and with the frequency of use of some of those non-carcinogenic wipes, there is potential for hazardous use.
Click here to view a related NAHC report article.
Further information for workers, employers and users of hazardous chemicals can be reviewed at OSHA's Hazard Communication Safety and Health topics here, which includes links to OSHA's revised Hazard Communication Standard and guidance materials such as Q&A's, OSHA fact sheets, and Quick Cards.