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OSHA revises hazard communication standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has revised its hazard communication standard, aligning it with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

The hazard communication standard will be implemented fully in 2016 and benefit workers by reducing confusion about chemical hazards in the workplace, facilitating safety training and improving understanding of hazards, especially for low-literacy workers. OSHA's standard will classify chemicals according to their health and physical hazards and establish consistent labels and safety data sheets for all imported and domestically made chemicals.

The standard, once implemented, is expected to prevent an estimated 43 deaths and 585 injuries and illnesses and result in an estimated $475.2 million in enhanced productivity for U.S. businesses each year. It also is expected to reduce trade barriers and result in estimated annualized benefits with productivity improvements for U.S. businesses that regularly handle, store and use hazardous chemicals, as well as cost savings of $32.2 million for U.S. businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the standard.

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