How do the hazard communication standard (HCS) and the globally harmonized system (GHS) apply to your clients?
The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS)—administered by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)—is designed to ensure the dissemination of information about chemical hazards and protective measures that can be taken by both employers and employees to safeguard health. The HCS is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. This is a worldwide initiative to promote standard criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health, physical and environmental hazards. The HCS/GHS update provides a coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. Its objective is to improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace. It also enhances the safety of all workers by providing understandable information and reducing international trade barriers for American businesses. As of 1 Dec. 2013, OSHA required all employers to have trained their employees on this update. University of Florida/IFAS Miami-Dade County Extension agents quickly responded to this need and delivered a series of trainings for employers and employees based on information on the OSHA website. Two-hundred-sixty-six (266) people participated in these trainings. For the English workshops, 139 participants used Turning Point™ pre- and post-tests to measure their knowledge of the new pictograms. Across all participants, there was a 6% increase in knowledge between the pre- and the post-test. Sixty-eight (68) of 79 (86%) participants in the Spanish workshops responded to a survey. All 68 reported a knowledge gain of 3.9 on a weighted scale of 1–5 and intent to change practices with regard to reading the label and using the new pictograms with a weighted average of 4.3 on a 1–5 scale. The satisfaction rating of these workshops was of 4.3 on a 1–5 scale. Participants reported being more confident in their ability to work with the new labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) once they become available. All participants received a certificate of attendance and those with pesticide licenses received continuing education units.