16 Hazard Communication (HazCom) and GHS FAQs

Posted by Selin Hoboy on Mon, Sep 30, 2013 @ 08:26 AM

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Confused about HazCom? You’re not alone. The following are the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) that Stericycle representatives have received about the Hazard Communication (HazCom) Standard and the Globally Harmonized System (GHS).


1. Does my facility have to prepare a written Hazard Communication Program and provide HazCom training?

The HazCom Standard is a federal requirement of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), which is a part of the US Department of Labor. The revised HazCom Standard impacts virtually all healthcare offices and facilities, because your employees are, or may be, exposed to chemicals that are hazardous.  Even a product, such as alcohol gel for hand hygiene, presents a hazard, because it is flammable.

2. Is there a new deadline for updated training on HazCom requirements?

Yes, it’s December 1, 2013.

3. What is the difference between this revised HazCom Standard and what we have been providing?

The Hazard Communication Standard has been revised to incorporate the Globally Harmonized System.  By December 1, 2013, employers must provide training on what OSHA’s revised Standard now requires in the way of pictograms for communicating hazards and changes coming to manufacturers’ product labels and Safety Data Sheets.  The Standard now includes both the need to know and the right to understand hazardous chemicals in the workplace. 

4.  Is there any other training required beyond the training on pictograms, manufacturer’s labels, and Safety Data Sheets?

Yes, OSHA also requires training on the requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard, the hazards of any chemicals in use in the workplace, the steps workers can take to protect themselves, and the employer’s written Hazard Communication Program.

5.  What do we have to do by the deadline?

Train your employees who may potentially be exposed to hazardous chemicals about the
new pictograms, other label elements, and changes coming to Safety Data Sheets. Basic HazCom training must also include workplace procedures and protective measures that can safeguard employees from chemical exposure in the workplace. Training must also include emergency procedures, in case of accidental chemical exposure.

6.  What are pictograms?

Pictograms are black illustrations set against a white diamond outlined in red. The pictograms OSHA adopted include:

  • Health Hazard
  • Flame
  • Exclamation Mark
  • Corrosion
  • Exploding Bomb
  • Gas Cylinder
  • Flame Over Circle
  • Skull and Crossbones

Each pictogram is designed to communicate particular health or safety hazards that a hazardous chemical might present. Just as almost everyone recognizes that a skull and crossbones on a label represents a hazard presented by a chemical, in time workers will become familiar with the other simple pictograms.

7.  What are SDSs?

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are replacing Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDSs. SDSs will begin to follow a uniform format.

8.  How will I know when a manufacturer has updated the MSDS to an SDS?

Users of Stericycle’s online MSDS/SDS system will be notified when an updated SDS becomes available for any MSDSs that have previously been downloaded.

9. What changed in this HazCom revision?

OSHA adopted and incorporated the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals into its already existing Hazard Communication Standard.  The GHS is a new system for both classifying hazardous chemicals and for communicating those hazards to end users. The training you need to provide has also changed. It should now include information about the new pictograms, other label elements, and the new SDS format. In addition to manufacturers having to adopt the new pictograms for their product labels, it is also recommended that employers begin to use the pictogram labels on any secondary containers created in the workplace.

10. What didn’t change?

OSHA continues to require you to have a written Hazard Communication Program in your safety plans. You must continue to inventory and keep a list of all the hazardous chemicals in your workplace. You must inform your employees about hazardous chemical hazards in their workplace.

11. Why did OSHA make these changes?

OSHA adopted the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The new labeling with pictograms is being used by countries around the world. These pictograms are intended to be understood across diverse languages and cultures.

12. Do my employees need some sort of printed certificate for the training?

OSHA does not require printed certificates, but employers are encouraged to use them. A sign-in sheet of attendees can help verify that training was provided.

13. Do I need to do the training annually?

Federal OSHA does not require annual HazCom training. HazCom training must be provided when a worker is first placed into a job that entails potential exposure to hazardous chemicals, when new hazardous chemicals are introduced, etc.  Some states, however, do have requirements for annual “right-to-know” training, and it is, therefore, a best practice to provide annual HazCom training whether it is strictly required or not.  The training can be presented quickly in a matter of minutes.

14. How does Stericycle help customers?

Stericycle provides Hazard Communication/GHS Awareness Training, an online Material Safety
Data Sheet/Safety Data Sheet System, an Automated Safety Plan Builder for creating your facility’s Hazard Communication Program, and Workplace Labels for creating labels for chemicals you may place into secondary containers at your worksite. You can learn more by clicking the “Learn More” button below.

15. Where can I access these resources?

If you are a Preferred or Select customer, you can access all these resources at our customer account site at MyStericycle.com.

16. Can Stericycle help me…

  • Access these resources?

  • Become a customer?

  • Learn more about my program level?

Yes. Call 1.866.783.7422.


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Topics: OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, OSHA GHS, Stericycle, Steri-Safe, HazCom, Hazard Communication Standard, Hazard Communication, GHS

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