OSHA issues revision to Hazard Communication standard

Posted By: Jerrod Weaver Health & Safety,

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a comprehensive update to its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), aimed at enhancing worker safety and aligning with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The updated regulations, published on May 20, 2024, will take effect on July 19, 2024. 

Aligned primarily with the seventh revision of the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, the updated standard will require labels on small packaging to be more comprehensive and readable and makes changes to help ensure trade secrets no longer prevent workers and first responders from receiving critical hazard information on safety data sheets. 

Key Changes to the Standard

The revised HCS introduces several significant changes:

  1. Improved Labeling and Safety Data Sheets:

    • Labels on small packaging will be more comprehensive and easier to read.
    • Safety data sheets (SDS) will provide more detailed and accessible hazard information, ensuring that trade secrets do not hinder critical safety disclosures.
  2. Enhanced Hazard Classification Process:

    • The updated standard offers a clearer hazard classification process, providing more accurate information on labels and SDS.
    • Physical hazard classes have been updated to better inform users about the safe handling of explosives, aerosols, and chemicals under pressure.
  3. Updated Precautionary Statements:

    • New precautionary statements will guide users on how to safely handle, store, and dispose of hazardous chemicals.

Implications for Employers

Employers, particularly chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and downstream users, will need to make several adjustments to comply with the revised standard:

  1. Revised Training Protocols:

    • Employee training programs must be updated to reflect the new requirements for storing and handling hazardous substances. This is expected to be the most significant impact for downstream users.
  2. Updated Labeling and SDS Compliance:

    • Larger enterprises involved in importing and distributing chemicals will need to update their labeling practices and ensure their SDS meet the new standards.

Impact on Employees

Employees will benefit from the following changes:

  1. Better Information:

    • The improved labels and SDS will provide clearer and more detailed information, enhancing their ability to safely handle chemicals and respond to emergencies.

  2. Emergency Preparedness
    • In case of emergencies, health care providers will have immediate access to critical chemical information, which can improve medical responses.

Additional Considerations for Small Manufacturing Foundries

For small manufacturing foundries, compliance with the revised HCS will involve:

  1. Training Updates:

    • Ensuring that all employees receive training on the new hazard communication procedures.

  2. Reviewing and Updating Safety Protocols:

    • Revisiting and revising current safety protocols to align with the new regulations.

  3. Regular Compliance Checks:

    • Conducting regular reviews of hazard communication programs to avoid penalties, as HazCom violations are frequently penalized by OSHA.


The updated Hazard Communication Standard marks a significant step towards enhancing workplace safety and aligning U.S. regulations with international standards. Employers are urged to begin preparations now to ensure full compliance by the July 19, 2024, deadline.

For more information and resources, including a detailed overview of the changes, visit OSHA’s official website or watch a brief explanatory video available in English and Spanish on the Department of Labor’s YouTube page.