OSHA Hazard Communication Standard


OSHA revised its Haz Com Standard to align with the United Nations, Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). These changes were made according to the chart to the right. The purpose of this document is to familiarize you with what to expect, when to expect it, and describe these label elements.

June 1, 2015*

December 1, 2015

Comply with all modified provisions of this final rule, except:

Distributors may ship products labeled by manufacturers under the old system until December 1, 2015.

Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers

Effective Completion DateRequirement(s)Who
December 1, 2013Train employees on the new label elements and SDS format.Employers
June 1, 2016Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.Employers
Transition PeriodComply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (this final standard), or the current standard, or both.All chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers

What does this mean for you?

It means you must become familiar with the elements of a GHS label as well as the content and format of a Safety Data Sheet (SDS).

GHS Label Elements

GHS labels are standardized with no variation and include the following elements:

  • Symbols (hazard pictograms SEE BELOW): Convey health, physical and environmental hazard information, assigned to a GHS hazard class and category;
  • Signal Words: “Danger” or “Warning” are used to emphasize hazards and indicate the relative level of severity of the hazard, assigned to a GHS hazard class and category;
  • Hazard Statements: Standard phrases assigned to a hazard class and category that describe the nature of the hazard. Precautionary Statements: Measures to minimize or prevent adverse effects. All applicable hazard statements must appear on a label;
  • Product Identifier (ingredient disclosure): How the chemical is identified. Name or number used for a hazardous product on a label or in the SDS. The information on the label and SDS must be the same;
  • Supplier identification: The name, address and telephone number should be provided on the label. Supplemental information: non-harmonized information;
  • Precautionary Statements: A phrase that describes recommended measures that should be taken to minimize or prevent adverse effects resulting from exposure or improper storage;
  • Symbols (hazard pictograms): Convey health, physical and environmental hazard information, assigned to a GHS hazard class and category.


Pictograms must be contained a red outer square, a white background, and a black hazard symbol. OSHA has designated 8 pictograms under this standard. A pictogram must be listed for each of the hazards.
Global Harmonization Pictograms

Example GHS Label with Elements

Example GHS Label with Elements

Safety Data Sheet (SDS) (previously known as “Material Safety Data Sheets”)

An SDS makes it easy to find important information and alleviate searching. For example, information on personal protective equipment will always be under section 8 (Exposure Controls/ Personal Protection). The information found in a SDS will always be identical to information on a GHS label. Hard copy binders should be updated as SDS are received to ensure completion by the final implementation date. There are 16 categories within an SDS:

  1. Identification — Product identifier, manufacturer contact info, restrictions on use
  2. Hazard Identification — Includes all hazards regarding chemical and label elements
  3. Composition / ingredients — Chemical ingredients, and trade name secrets
  4. First Aid measures — Includes symptoms/ effects, acute, delayed and treatment
  5. Firefighting measures — proper extinguishing techniques, equipment, hazards from fire
  6. Accidental release measures — Emergency procedures, ppe, containment and cleanup
  7. Handling and Storage — precautions for safe storage such as incompatibles
  8. Exposure Controls / PPE — Lists exposure limits, engineering controls, and ppe
  9. Physical and chemical properties — Characteristics of a chemical
  10. Stability and Reactivity — possible reactions and stability of the substance
  11. Toxicological information — Routes of exposure, symptoms, effects, numerical toxicity measures
  12. Ecological Information*
  13. Disposal Considerations*
  14. Transport information*
  15. Regulatory Information*
  16. Other information – preparation and revision dates

*These section must be present but OSHA doesn’t regulate the information found here.
For more information go to https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/ or email EHS at oehs@bu.edu.

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