OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard was changed to create a consistent standard recognized worldwide that will reduce misunderstandings in the workplace and increase hazard comprehension. To comply with OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard and the new changes, veterinarians are required to:

  • Maintain a list of hazardous chemicals in the practice
  • Obtain and maintain Safety Data Sheets (formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets)
  • Perform an annual survey of chemicals in the workplace
  • Develop and enforce safe handling procedures for hazardous chemical use
  • Label hazardous chemicals
  • Train employees on appropriate handling procedures and exposure response
  • Inform contractors working onsite about the hazardous chemicals present
  • Maintain appropriate records

What is the Globally Harmonized System?
The Globally Harmonized System is a single set of harmonized criteria provided for classifying chemicals according to their health and physical hazards. OSHA now requires that chemical manufacturers and importers comply with the Globally Harmonized System. Significant changes include:

  • OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard defines the testing requirement standards for manufacturers and importers to consistently identify health and physical hazards.
  • The Globally Harmonized System requires consistent words and images to identify particular hazards of chemicals manufactured or imported anywhere in the world.
  • Safety Data Sheets provided by chemical manufacturers are in a consistent format containing 16 sections; employers can now easily identify critical information in the SDS.

Expected benefits
OSHA anticipates many benefits from aligning with the Globally Harmonized System in the Hazard Communication Standard. These expectations include:

  • Preventing more than 500 injuries and illnesses in the workplace each year as well as preventing 43 fatalities related to hazardous chemicals
  • A dramatic increase in the consistency of the Hazard Communication Standard when manufacturers and importers use the same pictograms and Safety Data Sheet formats
  • An increase in employee comprehension of hazardous chemicals in the workplace; employees will better understand the chemical dangers and be better prepared in the event of an exposure
  • More efficient access to critical information in the event of an exposure when Safety Data Sheets are in the same format

Employee training
The deadline to train your employees (who work with hazardous chemicals) on the Hazard Communication Standard changes was December 1, 2013. If you have not yet trained your employees, please do so now. Training resources are available on OSHA's website. Document your employee training program and retain this information for your practice records. In the event of an incident, you may be asked to provide evidence of your employee training.

Additional OSHA resources
New Hazard Communication Page

GHS and The Purple Book

Benefits of Harmonization

Questions? Need information about workers' compensation?
If you would like to learn how the AAHA Business Insurance Program can help you, or if you would like a free workers' compensation policy review, please contact HUB by phone at 866-380-AAHA (2242) or by email at [email protected].



Comments (1) -

Mr Pro
Mr ProUnited States
2/15/2015 8:11:07 PM #

Thanks a lot for the update. Canada has also published WHMIS adopting GHS for workplace chemicals this week. Is this a big step?

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