HCS stands for Hazard Communication Standard. This standard requires that hazardous material information must be available for employees and people such as emergency response personnel because they have the right to know what kinds of hazards are present and how to then protect themselves. Hazard information should be available through the following means:
- Visual identifiers such as GHS, pipe, and NFPA labels
- The material’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS).
As part of the Hazardous Communication Standard safety data sheets are required for chemical manufacturers and importers to be able to notify the end users of the hazards that the chemical or substance may have. These documents help determine what kind of signage is needed for proper storage, handling, and training needed for the hazardous material.
In recent years the Hazardous Communication Standard has been aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, also known as GHS. This has enabled these two standards to communicate with the pubic in a more comprehensive manner that allows for more consistency in how hazardous material is handled by workers and labeling wise.
Several things have been changed under the Hazard Communication Standard including the format of the safety data sheets. As a result of GHS and HCS aligning their standards, SDSs have been edited to have a user-friendly 16-section format that covers all needed information about any one hazardous material. This makes it to where there aren’t multiple different documents to choose from when readily giving the hazard information out to those who require it. Labels have also been slightly modified to all have a signal word (caution, danger, or warning), pictogram(s), a hazard statement for each hazard class and category, as well as precautionary statements. Lastly, the hazard classifications for health and physical hazards present are required to be displayed. These new requirements were to be adopted by December 1st in 2013 for all facilities that work with hazardous substances.