OSHA announced that it will publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on Sept. 12, 2006, seeking public comment on the implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Adoption of the international standard by OSHA will require the agency to propose changes to its hazard communication standard.

GHS is a system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of chemicals by providing a comprehensive approach to defining the health and physical hazards of chemicals, creating classification processes, and communicating hazard information through uniform labels and safety data sheets.

To help those who are not familiar with the approach in the system, OSHA has prepared a guidance document that summarizes GHS requirements.

GHS has been adopted by the United Nations with a goal of broad international adoption of by 2008. OSHA director Edwin Foulke said the standards will facilitate international trade by increasing the consistency between the laws in different countries that currently require different information be provided to employers and employees about chemicals during their production, transportation, use and disposal based on jurisdiction.

Written comments (in triplicate) must be submitted no later than Nov. 13, 2006, to OSHA at http://ecomments.osha.gov/.

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