WASHINGTON – The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the agency has revised its Hazard Communication Standard.

OSHA said the new standard is aligned with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The agency expects the new standard to be fully implemented in 2016. The new Hazard Communication Standard will classify chemicals according to their health and physical hazards and establish consistent labels and safety data sheets for all chemicals made in the US and imported from abroad, OSHA said. The revisions were made with the aim of preventing an estimated 43 deaths and 585 injuries and illnesses each year.

"Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious dangers facing American workers today," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Revising OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard will improve the quality, consistency and clarity of hazard information that workers receive, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive in the global marketplace."

OSHA said the new standard will help workers by reducing confusion about chemical hazards in the workplace, facilitating safety training and improving understanding of hazards, especially for low-literacy workers.

The agency also said the revised standard will reduce trade barriers and improve productivity for US businesses that regularly handle, store and use hazardous chemicals, as well as yield cost savings of $32.2 million for US businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the standard.

OSHA said chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers may comply with either 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910.1200 (the final standard), the current standard or both during the transition period to the completion dates noted in the standard.