Train on New Labels, Safety Data Sheets by Dec. 1

CorrosiveChemicalHazardBy Dec. 1, 2013, employers must train workers on new label elements and a standardized format for new Safety Data Sheets, formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets, related to chemical hazards in the workplace. The training is required under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s updated Hazard Communication Standard.

Office workers who encounter hazardous chemicals only in isolated instances are not covered by the rule. For example, OSHA says intermittent or occasional use of a copying machine does not result in coverage under the rule. However, if an employee handles the chemicals to service the machine, or operates it for long periods of time, then the standard applies.

The new 16-section Safety Data Sheets, or SDS, are required for all chemicals sold in the United States. Chemicals a business may house do not have to be a specific grade such as commercial or industrial to fall under the standards. Basically, any employer with one employee and one hazardous chemical is covered.  The purpose of the sheets is to provide safety and health information about chemicals to help prevent accidents and exposures.

An OSHA Fact Sheet at explains the minimum required topics for the training that must be completed by Dec. 1.

It is important that your store or business be up to date in case of an OSHA audit or accident that involves the use of the Hazard Communication Standard.

Data sheets for most chemicals purchased in the past three years have been revised, so those sheets should be up to date; however, you may still have old data sheets for older chemicals in your Hazards Communications Binders. Employers need to go to the manufacturers’ websites and print off new SDS forms and place them in your binder for any chemicals with outdated sheets.

Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided. The training should familiarize workers with the new label elements.

Alabama Retail Comp can provide members with Power Point presentations, training exercises and quizzes and answers related to chemical labels and Safety Data Sheets from ARC’s Safety Training Library.

Contact Tessa Lowery at or 1-800-239-5423 to find out how you can access the information.

This article also appeared in the 2013 Third Edition of Alabama Retail Quarterly, was distributed to Alabama Retail members via e-mail and was first published here on Oct. 25, 2013.