Meeting accreditation standards aren’t the only pressing deadlines facilities managers are juggling these days. The clock is winding down quickly for facilities to comply with the initial deadline of the Hazard Communication (HazCom) 2012 standard.
By Dec. 1, facilities must train employees exposed to dangerous materials according to reforms that align HazCom 2012 with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Changes (GHS), a system developed by the United Nations.
The big picture goal of HazCom 2012 for facilities managers: Train all employees who come into contact with hazardous products to recognize and understand potential problems documented on labels and reformatted safety data sheets (SDS) so they can avoid serious injuries or worse.
In addition to correctly identifying the elements on labels, employees must also be able to identify included signal words like Danger and Warning, hazard statements that describe risks and product identifiers.
The most important thing facilities managers and their co-workers should know right away about the latest SDS: Emergency response and safety information will always be located at the front of any SDS. Also, the layout of the 16-section data sheet is very similar to that of the ANSI standards for material safety data sheets (MSDS).
One potentially confusing change, however, is the way GHS classifies hazards by its own numerical system. A 1 is considered most hazardous according to GHS rules. The very same number, however, is defined under current HMIS and NFPA ratings as least hazardous.
There is no process that certifies facilities managers training co-workers on these practices. Nevertheless, OSHA expects training to be effective and recommends maintaining training records.
The next deadline (June 1, 2015) applies to chemical manufacturers and distributors to complete hazard reclassifications and create labels and SDSs.
A year later (June 1, 2016), employers must be in full compliance with HazCom standards, including employee training and implementation of changes to hazard communications programs.
For more guidance on HazCom 2012 standards at your facility, contact Vanguard Resources.