The 2012 Hazardous Communication final rule became effective in March of 2012. These changes to the hazardous communication standard aligned it with the United Nations global chemical labeling system. Several U.S. regulatory agencies and other countries have different requirements for hazard definitions and for what is to be included on labels and SDS’s. In order to make these requirements and definitions more uniform, the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) was developed.

Here are the GHS compliance key dates to remember:

December 1, 2013- Employers need to train all employees on the new labeling elements and Safety Data Sheets (SDS).

June 1, 2015– Chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors must comply with all modified provisions of GHS.

December 1, 2015– Distributors may continue to ship products labeled by manufacturers under the old system until this date.

June 1, 2016- Employers need to update the alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as needed and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.

Sarah Carty is an Environmental Health and Safety Consultant and an Industrial Hygienist at SMG and can be reached at