OSHA Proposes Rulemaking to Amend Hazard Communication Standard

The Alliance for Chemical Distribution responds.

Kristen Kazarian, Managing Editor

May 21, 2024

2 Min Read
OSHA puts forth final rulemaking on Hazard Communication Standard
The HCS provides a standardized approach to communicating workplace hazards of exposure to dangerous chemicals. Thank you for your assistant/iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a final rule on May 20, 2024, that updates the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the seventh revision of the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The rule will take effect on July 19, 2024.

OSHA says the updated standard will improve the standard’s effectiveness by better informing employees about chemical hazards in the workplace. This final rule will increase worker protections and reduce the incidences of chemical-related occupational illnesses and injuries by further improving the information on the labels and safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals. The final rule will also address issues arising since implementation of the 2012 standard and improve alignment with other federal agencies and Canada.

Alliance for Chemical Distribution (ACD), formerly the National Association of Chemical Distributors, President and CEO Eric R. Byer shared a statement on concerns over the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) final rulemaking.


“ACD members have a personal stake in the health, safety, and security of their employees, companies, and communities and they take this commitment seriously. Despite unprecedented supply chain and economic challenges over the last few years, chemical distribution companies used their expertise to deliver essential chemicals and ingredients safely and responsibly daily.


“While ACD supports harmonizing the HCS with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification (GHS) and Labeling of Chemicals, OSHA’s new final rule will place significant administrative pressure on these chemical distribution firms with no commensurate increases in worker safety or harmonization. The final HCS rule is a slight improvement over the proposed rule, yet it still adds needless complexity and liability to the system and will require our members to shift substantial resources to update safety data sheets (SDS) and labels.


“Perhaps most disturbing is OSHA’s failure to acknowledge the costs chemical distribution companies will incur to comply with the new requirements, wrongly claiming that the rule will actually result in cost savings for industry. OSHA blatantly rejected concerns expressed by ACD and many other members of the regulated community that some of the changes would make the HCS more divergent from the GHS and would require challenging and costly updates to SDS and labeling software.


“This final rulemaking is in addition to numerous other onerous regulations recently issued by the Administration imposing excessive and burdensome costs and delays on businesses of all sizes. ACD is disappointed that OSHA failed to consider many of the legitimate concerns expressed by ACD and others during the rule’s comment period.”


ACD previously submitted comments warning OSHA about the unintended consequences of this rule in 2021.

Established in 1983, the HCS provides a standardized approach to communicating workplace hazards associated with exposure to dangerous chemicals. OSHA updated the standard in 2012 to align with the third revision of the GHS. The system provides a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information.

About the Author(s)

Kristen Kazarian

Managing Editor

Kristen Kazarian has been a writer and editor for more than three decades. She has worked at several consumer magazines and B2B publications in the fields of food and beverage, packaging, processing, women's interest, local news, health and nutrition, fashion and beauty, automotive, and computers.

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