By next year, contractors will notice a new set of labels on many of the building products they purchase. OSHA is running a corporate-wide project to ensure the safety of contractors by implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
Already in place in several countries in Europe and around the world, GHS standardizes global warnings and symbols for hazardous materials, ensuring consistency of hazard information and thereby making it safer for employees to do their jobs.
There are three main components of GHS:
1. Labels – The GHS sets standards for classifying and communicating hazard information andhow this information is displayed on products. For example, joint compound packaging will have images on the product intended to warn users of the possible health risks to the lungs.
2. Safety Data Sheets – Under the new rule, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) will now be referred to as Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and will have 16 standard sections.
3. Employee Training – It’s essential for all target audiences to recognize and interpret label and/or SDS information, and to take appropriate action in response to chemical hazards.
L&W Supply and its parent manufacturing company, USG Corporation, are among the first to adopt GHS and are making a conscious effort to inform and educate the industry prior to its release. By October 1, 2015, these labels will be required on USG packaging, and on all other applicable brand products stocked by L&W Supply.
While contractors may see packaging with new images on them, it is important to note that this does not signify a change in product composition or application methods.
Anticipated benefits to contractors and workers include improved safety through consistent hazard communications and practices, and greater awareness of hazards, resulting in safer use of chemicals in the workplace.
At L&W Supply, safety is not just part of the culture, it is our culture, and complying with GHS labeling is just another example of this commitment to safety.
If you would like further information on GHS, please visit the Department of Labor site at http://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/global.html.
*photo courtesy of Labratorium Magazine
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