Whether people are dealing with files, storage bins or safety hazards, they often have different perspectives and opinions in the workplace on how to use labels to communicate with co-workers. When opinions clash, problems with communication can lead to confusion and even harm, especially when dealing with hazardous materials at a work site or during transport across state, national and international borders. A unified labeling system helps everyone to communicate more clearly and effectively.
In 2003, members of the United Nations recognized that there were far too many competing labeling systems for hazardous materials around the world. They agreed that a single system of classification was needed to reduce risks associated with handling hazardous materials. They called this system the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). By 2009, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) took steps to bring its own standards in line with the GHS.
Nations who agreed to the new standard were provided deadlines for taking action. OSHA informed businesses that the new OSHA labels and rules would go into effect in June 2015. Business owners had until December 2013 to train employees on how to read and use the updated labels and safety data sheets. By December 2016, business owners were required to train their employees again on any changes made as new health hazards and workplace requirements became known to OSHA.
Businesses must use agreed upon labeling standards from the Global Harmonized System domestically and internationally to prevent confusion. These labels must display diamond shapes with specific interior and border colors and unified images, words and statements designed to define the type of hazard and the level of risk. The labeling system is designed to address health, physical and environmental hazards. Labels and …