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GHS designed to reduce work injury from hazardous chemicals

Both in Colorado and around the country, the use of hazardous chemicals in the workplace has become an unavoidable commonplace. OSHA says that some 43 million workers nationwide handle hazardous chemicals in their work duties across a wide range of work venues. The federal agency also publishes a hazard communication standard for reading labels and data safety sheets. One important goal is to train workers so that the risk of a work accident from hazardous chemicals will be substantially reduced.

OSHA's new standard is called HazCom 2012. These revised standards bring the United States into compatibility with what is called the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). GHS was started by the United Nations in order to globalize information about hazardous chemicals. OSHA estimates a possible 500 workplace injuries and fatalities may be prevented per year under the system.

A company violating the standards risks not only increased worker injuries, but also OSHA penalties and fines. There are GHS targeted training programs that are available for American companies. Additionally, the Susan Harwood Targeted Training Grant has been awarded to 18 organizations nationwide. This grant is used for hands-on training and education for employers in a variety of health and safety topics using GHS standards. Instruction kits are provided to each participant, in English or Spanish.

The training program is designed for supervisors, managers, and safety officers and is intended to be passed on for training of workers. One of the main activities of the program is to communicate hazard information and protective measures on Safety Data Sheets and labels. One benefit of the program is to obtain a single classification system worldwide for understanding and communicating the dangers and safety measures for dealing with each chemical.

OSHA’s efforts in Colorado and nationwide are a good step forward. By promoting regulations in American workplaces, the incidence of work injury from chemical misuse may be controlled in an organized and effective manner. The globalization of these standards is an added benefit that will protect workers worldwide and cut down on the need to determine the differences from country to country.

Source: statecollege.com, "PennTAP training works to prevent chemical injuries in the workplace", , June 26, 2014

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