At a ceremony on June 19, 2013 at the U.S. Department of Labor headquarters, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Canadian Department of Health signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that permits the countries to work together as they implement the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling (GHS).
The two agencies will create a working group to minimize barriers between U.S. and Canadian systems for regulating hazardous workplace chemicals. The group will also cooperate to develop similar positions on proposed GHS updates for the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts.
"Today we live and work in a global environment with varying and sometimes conflicting national and international requirements," explained Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Through GHS and now this MOU, OSHA and Health Canada have forged a relationship to jointly provide concise information to protect those exposed to hazardous chemicals."
OSHA adopted the GHS in March 2012 to ensure chemical hazards are clearly and consistently communicated. All American workplaces with hazardous chemicals are required to conduct training on GHS labeling and safety data sheets by December 1, 2013.
Keep workers safe when handling chemicals. Follow guidelines for labels and material safety data sheets, complete required hazard communication training, place emergency eye wash/showers in work areas, and provide safety supplies like gloves, respiratory protection, safety glasses, and protective clothing.