For some time now, safety professionals have been expecting the U.S. adoption of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) to make some pretty significant changes to OSHA’s hazard communication standard. Since the mid-2000s, OSHA and other agencies have been discussing and hosting hearings on GHS and revising the hazcom standard. Now that GHS finally is here with all provisions and deadlines outlined, we can expect a focused effort by safety professionals and OSHA to ensure all requirements and deadlines are met.

The question most EHS professionals ask about the changes underway is: “What do I need to do now to implement hazcom 2012?” It’s a bit of a loaded question, and it depends on the specific needs of an organization. At this point, it isn’t as much a matter of “getting ready” as it is a question of “How am I going to meet all requirements and deadlines?”

The only constant factor every organization must take into consideration is time. By Dec. 1, 2013, OSHA is requiring that all employees be trained on the update to the hazard communication standard, and by June 1, 2015, organizations must be compliant with all modified provisions of hazcom 2012. What you do from here on out will determine if you are successful in hitting the deadlines. But don’t let those seemingly distant dates deceive you – those deadlines can sneak up on you if you aren’t prepared.