The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) new requirement for classifying and communicating hazards—the Globally Harmonized System—is intended to make the workplace a safer environment through better, standardized hazard communication.
Employers are required to train workers by Dec. 1, 2013, on the new label elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding of the chemical products they use as part of their job. The League’s new information memo, Globally Harmonized System: Hazard Communication, provides details on this requirement and others regarding hazard communication.
The new Federal OSHA requirement is not, for most municipal government entities at least, so much a change in process as it is a change in how hazard information is communicated to municipal employees. If you’ve ever received training on the material safety data sheets about chemicals in your work environment then you know that each data sheet can look quite a bit different in terms of where you will find certain information about health hazards, the nature and reactivity of the chemical, and important first aid information, etc. This new requirement in the current OSHA Hazard Communication Standard creates a standardized format for labeling for manufacturers and distributors to follow. This should make it much easier for employees to read and understand the data sheet information and it should help them locate key information during an emergency.
Public safety resource
The standardized labeling and pictograms are also important for our public safety employees who might respond to the scene of a chemical leak or discharge, for example, at an industrial operation or a train derailment. Being able to quickly understand and appropriately respond to a hazardous spill situation will better protect our citizens, our environment, and our employees.
For those members that subscribe to the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust PATROL program (Police Accredited Training On Line), there is a specific module that teaches the up-to-date hazardous materials awareness training for peace officers.
Contact Cheryl Brennan
Loss Control Field Services Manager
(651) 215-4079 or (800) 925-1122