September 2013

New GHS HazCom 2012 Training Can Meet DOT General Safety Requirements.


The deadline for completing the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) Globally Harmonized System for Classification & Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom 2012) training is rapidly approaching. All employers must train those employees who may be exposed to hazardous substances on the product marking, labeling and Safety Data Sheet (SDS) aspects of the new GHS standard which was adopted, in part, on March 26, 2012.

Particular attention must be given to the pictograms, and hazard and precautionary statements, as well as the sixteen sections of a properly formatted SDS.

Testing & Certification Recommended

OSHA requires under the new Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) that employers “…provide employees with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area at the time of their initial assignment, and whenever a new chemical hazard the employees have not previously been trained about is introduced into their work area.”

Although OSHA does not mandate that a written exam or certification be offered in association with the training, employers are strongly encouraged to do so for a number of reasons.

First, a written exam is a useful tool to measure comprehension of this most important topic. Additionally, the certification is a method in which to prove to inspecting agencies that the required training was, indeed, given.

Second, a written exam and certification may be used to satisfy the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s (DOT) General Safety Training requirement. DOT requires that all hazmat employees as defined in Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), section §171.8, receive General Safety Training, in addition to General Awareness & Familiarization, Security awareness, and Function-Specific training. Driver training and Detailed Security Plan training may also be required for operators of motor vehicles used to transport placardable quantities of dangerous goods, or for facilities that offer into transport or transport quantities of hazardous materials requiring registration with DOT’s Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

In order to qualify for DOT General Safety Training, the training offered must fulfill the requirements of 49 CFR Part 172, subpart H, and sections §172.702 and §172.704, in particular.

DOT’s General Safety Training Requirement states that:

“…each hazmat employee shall receive training concerning:

(i) Emergency response information required by Subpart G of Part 172;

(ii) Measures to protect the employee from the hazards associated with hazardous materials to which they may be exposed in the work place, including specific measures the hazmat employer has implemented to protect employees from exposure; and

(iii) Methods and procedures for avoiding accidents, such as the proper procedures for handling packages containing hazardous materials.”

Although the DOT’s General Safety Training requirement is focused on the hazmat employee in particular, OSHA’s HazCom 2012 training is broader and will include, by definition, all hazmat employees because that subset of your workforce could be potentially exposed to hazardous chemicals during shipping, receiving, handling and transportation.

The emergency response requirements of 49 CFR Part 172, Subpart G specify that a 24-hour emergency response telephone number be provided for a hazardous materials emergency. This is generally the emergency phone number found in Section One (Identification) of a properly formatted SDS under the new standard (see Appendix D to 29 CFR 1910.1200, Table D.1, Heading 1 – Identification). It also requires that emergency response information must be provided that addresses accidental exposures, fires, spills, leaks and other emergency situations. This corresponds to Sections 4 (First Aid Measures), 5 (Firefighting Measures) and 6 (Accidental Release Measures) of a properly formatted SDS under the new standard.

Measures to protect employees are addressed in Section 8 (Exposure Controls/Personal Protection), and Section 11 (Toxicological Information) of the new SDS. Methods and procedures for avoiding accidents are addressed in Sections 7 (Handling & Storage) and 13 (Disposal Considerations) of the new SDS.

Few Modifications Needed

Therefore, it makes sense to consider modifying your existing HazCom 2012 training program to address the elements of the DOT’s General Safety Training requirement, and to provide a written exam and certification in order to satisfy both OSHA’s HazCom 2012 training and DOT’s general Safety Training requirements.

In fact, DOT states in 49 CFR §172.704(b) that “…training conducted by employers to comply with the hazard communication programs required by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration of the Dept. of Labor (29 CFR 1910.120 or 1910.1200) or the Environmental Protection Agency (40 CFR 311.1), or training conducted by employers to comply with security training programs required by other Federal or international agencies, may be used to satisfy the training requirements in [49 CFR §172.704(a)] …” to the extent that such training addresses the training components specified in [49 CFR §172.704(a)].

In the new OSHA HazCom rule, OSHA states in 29 CFR 1910.1200(h)(3)(iv) that the employee training shall include, at least, “…an explanation of the labels received on shipped containers and the workplace labeling system used by their employer; the safety data sheet, including the order of information and how employees can obtain and use the appropriate hazard information.”

Only a few modifications to the training program need be made. Essentially, the HazCom2012 program modifications should include an explanation of the various DOT marks, labels and placards for those hazardous materials that are shipped to or from the facility, a written test, and a Certificate of Completion, awarded upon successful completion of the training. Many of the GHS pictograms are also consistent with DOT hazard warning labels, except that they have different background colors and sizes so it would not be difficult for the user to understand the properties and hazards associated with DOT-regulated chemicals.

Important Note

It is important to note, however, that DOT requires recurrent training be given to all hazmat employees at least once every three years. Although OSHA does not specify that recurrent training is required (except when a new chemical or hazard is introduced into the work area), employers are strongly encouraged to offer the HazCom 2012 training routinely (e.g., annually).

By providing refresher training you will better educate your work force on the hazards associated with chemicals in the workplace and develop a deeper understanding of the new rules. SPRAY