The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, also known as HazCom, HCS, 29 CFR 1910.1200, is a U.S. regulation that governs the evaluation and communication of hazards associated with chemicals in the workplace.

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What is HCS?

According to OSHA, the purpose of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is “to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are evaluated and details regarding their hazards are transmitted to employers and employees.” The premise behind HCS is that employers and employees have the right to know the hazards and identities of the chemicals they are exposed to and what precautions they can take to protect themselve

OSHA is presently aligning HCS with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS), a global hazard communication system developed by the UN that standardizes the classification of chemicals and the communication of hazards via labels and MSDSs. With GHS alignment, the classification of chemicals will include the categorization of hazards based upon severity. Other changes will significantly alter labels and safety data sheets.

Labels will now have six standardized elements: product identifier, manufacturer information, signal word, pictograms, hazard statements and precautionary statements. Also under GHS, safety data sheets are referred to as SDSs, dropping the M from MSDSs. More importantly, these SDSs have 16 sections which are arranged in a strict ordering. Because of these and other changes, employers should expect to update their entire safety data sheet library in the near future. Learn more about the HCS revision by visiting our GHS Answer Center.

Stay on top of GHS adoption by downloading our GHS / HazCom 2012 Adoption Timeline Checklist. Print it out and hang it in your office keep track of your progress. And if you are looking for an MSDS or a newly formatted GHS SDS, try our MSDS Search tool.

A Top 3 OSHA Violation

HCS violations consistently rank in the top 3 of OSHA’s ten most frequently cited standards list and is the one standard that ranks high across all industries.

Costs of non-compliance include:
  • Fines
  • Risk & Liability
  • Downtime & Internal Disruption
  • Negative Press & Damage to Corporate Image
  • Lost Revenues
During an inspection, you will be asked to produce:
  • Written HCS Plan
  • List/Inventory of Chemicals Used in the Workplace
  • Proper Labeling of Chemicals
  • MSDS Documents & Employee Access
  • Employee Training Specifications