OSHA Updates-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

OSHA Updates

OSHA has just (at last!) released its final regulation updating their Hazard Communication Standard.  The document in question is 858 pages long, so we here at EH&S have not yet slogged through its entirely just yet.  Still, though it does not directly affect the Lab Standard (which covers lab people only), some of its requirements will definitely be noticed by lab users.  The changes in the regulation are designed to bring the USA regulation in sync with the world-wide system of hazard warnings, called the Global Harmonization System (GHS).

First of all, you can soon be expected to see Safety Data Sheets, instead of Material Safety Data Sheets.  The formats used on the sheets will also become more uniform from manufacturer to manufacturer.  Otherwise, they will look the same as the MSDS do now.

There will also be new hazard symbols present on the Safety Data Sheets, which will match those used in the rest of the world.  Here are some of the symbols-most of the meanings should be obvious to you.

new hazard

"Exploding bomb" will indicate explosives.

"Flame" will indicate a flammable

"Flame over circle" will indicate an oxidizer

"Gas cylinder" will indicate a compressed gas

"Corrosion" will indicate a corrosive

"Skull and Crossbones" indicates a poison

"Exclamation mark" indicates "warning"

"Danger to health" indicates just that!

"Environment" indicates an environmental hazard

Finally, there will be one special area of confusion.  It is unfortunate that our current system of hazard rating (as you all well know) lists "4" as the highest hazard and "0" as little or no hazard.  Sadly, the GHS system is nearly the opposite: A "5" is a "minimal hazard" going down to a "1" as a "severe hazard".  Frankly, we are not looking forward to the problems this will be causing, but we will work with all of our campus to ensure that confusion is minimal.  Look to this newsletter for further updates.  There is fortunately a fairly lengthy time frame for compliance with the new law.

By: Mark Banister, markb2@andrew.cmu.edu, 412-268-1493