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Download Now Effective June 1, 2015, chemical manufacturers, importers, or other employers responsible for preparing safety data sheets, or SDSs, must format each SDS using consistent headings in a specified 16-section sequence.
The revised hazard communication standard, which was amended to align with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), requires chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate and classify the hazardous chemicals that they produce or import for physical and health hazards and follow a new mandatory 16-section format for safety data sheets (SDSs), which were formerly called material safety data sheets (MSDSs).
While employers were required to train their workers on new label elements and the new SDS format by December 1, 2013, manufacturers, distributors, and importers of chemicals were given additional time to bring their materials into compliance with the revised standard.
But as of June 1, 2015, chemical manufacturers and importers are required to have completed the transition process for SDSs.
Distributors, meanwhile, have until December 1, 2015, to ensure that all shipped containers bear a GHS-compliant label.
Summary of upcoming compliance deadlines: Note that OSHA has stated (in a February 2015 enforcement guidance memo) that the agency will not cite employers who are end users of chemicals (rather than manufacturers, importers, or distributors) for not having a GHS-compliant SDS for a chemical if the employer has not received it from its supplier.
In fact, if you use chemical mixtures in your facility, the arrival of some SDSs may be delayed if the manufacturers of these products have not received SDSs themselves from upstream suppliers.
However, upon receiving SDSs, you must maintain them in your facility and make them available for employees to examine.
Employers relying on SDSs supplied by a manufacturer, importer, or distributor are not liable for their accuracy as long as they have accepted the SDS in “good faith”—that is, without blank spaces or obvious inaccuracies.
Employers should report inaccurate or missing information on an SDS to the chemical manufacturer or distributor.
If an employer chooses to conduct his or her own hazard classification of a chemical under the Haz Com rule, the employer will be responsible for the accuracy of the SDS.