If you work with agricultural chemicals or other potentially dangerous materials, including pesticides,
herbicides, fertilizers, diesel fuel and/or disinfectant products, you should understand the new label
requirements and Safety Data Sheet (SDS) format. As of June 1 of this year, all chemical manufacturers
are required to use a new labeling and the SDS format established under Globally Harmonized System
(GHS) criteria for classifying the health and physical hazards of the chemicals they produce.
By June 1, 2016, employers must update workplace labeling and hazard communication programs,
providing ongoing employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.
Here are some things you should know about the new labels and SDSs:
Hazard definitions are now more specific, ensuring consistency across the board. There are more
specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards and for the classification of mixtures.
Labels now need to include six standard elements for classified hazards: product identifier, manufacturer
contact information, hazard pictograms, signal word (DANGER or WARNING), hazard statements and
The SDS format, formerly the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), is now the key Hazard
Communication Standard (HCS). The information required on the SDS is essentially the same as the
former MSDS; however, it will now be required to be organized in a specific 16-section format.
What do chemical users need to do?
First and foremost, always read and follow the packaging label and SDS.
Chemical users and their employers should continue to update their files with the new Standard Data
Sheets as they become available. Update hazard communications programs if new hazards associated with
the chemicals used in your operation are identified. You should also familiarize yourself with the nine
pictograms and what they stand for so you know what types of hazards you are dealing with.
The Center for Food Security and Public Health also provides some best practices for safe chemical
What are the benefits of the new standard?
There are more than 43 million workers who produce or handle hazardous chemicals in more than 5
million workplaces across the country. These new standards are expected to prevent as many as 500+
injuries and illnesses and 43 fatalities.
The new standard is a more consistent hazard information source in the workplace and the format is easier
for workers to comprehend. The productivity improvements, fewer SDS and label updates, and the new,
simpler hazard communication training are expected to save American businesses more than $500
All of these changes are ultimately intended to make users more aware of the products they are dealing
with so that they safely utilize them. For more information about the new HCS, visit the Grainger GHS compliance site.
Press release courtesy of AFBF.
1. “Are You Ready? GHS Hazard Communication Standard Final Rule,” W.W. Grainger, Inc. 2013.
2. “Agrochemicals on Your Farm: Safety,” The Center for Food Security and Public Health, Iowa State
University College of Veterinary Medicine.