Are You Ready For OSHA’s Dec. 1 Hazard Communication Standard Deadline?

A pictogram for OSHA's updated Safety Data Sheets and labels under its Hazard Communication StandardBoy! How time flies.

Way back in 2006 OSHA said it was going to update its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), which is intended to let workers know more about the types of chemicals they work with on the job. After seven years, the time has finally arrived when employers across the country are required to train employees on updated chemical labeling requirements and the new “Safety Data Sheet” format, which is replacing the “Material Safety Data Sheet” format.

OSHA is requiring employers to train employees on these updates by Dec. 1, 2013—which, if you take a second to look closely at your calendar, is less than two months away!

The entire HCS revamp is being gradually rolled out from Dec. 1 to June 1, 2016, and OSHA says this first step is necessary early in the transition process since workers are already beginning to see the new labels and SDSs on the chemicals in their workplace.

So what kind of changes can you anticipate? First, the safety data sheet is now standardized in 16 sections. For example, employees will need to understand that Section 8 of the SDS will always contain information about exposure limits, engineering controls and ways to protect yourself, including personal protective equipment. What’s more, labels on chemicals will be standardized and will include product identifiers, signal words that give an indication as to how dangerous a chemical is, hazard statements that say which parts of the body the chemical will affect, and pictograms that are easily recognizable and indicate how hazardous a chemical is.

If you’re scratching your head wondering what the heck all this means, fret not! Testudo is here to help, and we’re planning a number of training sessions in the coming months to ensure employers in Wisconsin are prepared for the HazCom changes. The first is approaching on Nov. 6 in Elkorn, WI. To schedule a session in your area or for your builders association, call (608) 205-8025 or email

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