As seen in Hammer & Dolly October 2014

In Hawaii, the word Ohana means family. Many similarities exist between our home and work “families”.   Many of us actually spend more of our waking moments with our co-workers than our spouses and children. Like our home family, we care deeply about them. The smaller the organization, the tighter knit we become. We share milestones and setbacks with one another. Being Safe & Compliant is about protecting your Ohana.

I have been in safety for over twenty-five years. While my company works with fortune 500 companies and government agencies, I really enjoy working with small businesses. Over the years, I have found that the vast majority of business owners genuinely care about their work family. Likewise, employees care about the organization they belong to and are protective of the company and their fellow workers.

The biggest reason small businesses suffer a disproportionate number of injuries, illnesses and fines is NOT because they don’t care, but because they don’t know. Small companies do not have the luxury of an in-house person to focus solely on compliance.

Over the coming months, I would like to share with the readers of Hammer and Dolly some of the most common OSHA regulations that shop owners are cited for.

The bedrock of all safety programs is OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, a.k.a. the “Right to Know” law. As the name implies, it’s about informing employees of hazards (both chemical and physical) they may encounter in the workplace.

Recent changes to the law, now called the Globally Harmonized System (GHS), mandate new labeling requirements, a transition from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to Safety Data Sheets (SDS), and employee training.

Labels (e.g. flammable, corrosive) are the primary way in which hazards are communicated. The new GHS labels consist of new pictograms and signal words (Danger, Warning) in accordance with UN requirements.

SDS’, which replace MSDS’, standardize and simplify the safety information provided to end-users (shops) by the manufacturer.

By June 1, and December 1, 2015, respectively, manufacturers and distributors must provide the new label on all new products and make SDS’ available for each hazardous material they sell.

By June 1, 2016, all employers must be in full compliance with the regulation. The deadline for training on the new label and SDS format was December 1, 2013. Additionally, all chemicals in the business must have proper labeling with an SDS available for employee review.

The purpose of GHS is to make it easier for employees to access needed safety information in an understandable format. This keeps the whole shop safer. No one wants to see their “family” members come to needless harm.

Joseph J. Kenny, II is president of Safety Regulation Strategies, Inc. a nationwide safety and environmental training and consulting firm. He has helped thousands of businesses create safe and compliant workplaces, and can be reached at 800-723-3734 or on the web at