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Ashkin release 11.14

November 14, 2013
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Chemical 'Harmonization:' What JanSan Professionals Must Know

BLOOMINGTON, IN — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is making changes that are going to impact the professional cleaning industry.  
According to Stephen Ashkin, President o f  The Ashkin Group and the "father of Green cleaning," OSHA is modifying the Hazard Communication Standard to ensure that information and labels on chemicals manufactured and used in the U.S. are "harmonized" with those manufactured in most other parts of the industrialized world.

This is part of a United Nations program known as the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, or GHS.

"The changes are to make chemical labeling more consistent both in the US and around the world to help protect [the] health and safety of all users," says Ashkin.  

OSHA says the new standards will impact more than 40 million workers in more than five million U.S. workplaces.  They are also estimated to prevent over 500 chemical related injuries and more than 40 fatalities each year, and save businesses nearly $500 million annually.

According to Ashkin, some of the major changes cleaning professionals should be aware of include:

Hazard classification:
Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine if their products are hazardous and, if so, classify the hazards consistent with the new global hazard classification system.  
Chemical manufacturers and importers must provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category. The pictograms will be especially helpful for non-technical people such as administrators, teachers, office and healthcare workers as well as cleaning workers who speak English as a second language.*
Safety Data Sheet (SDS):
Material Safety Data Sheets are being replaced by the SDS, which requires 16 specific sections listed in set order for all products. This change will significantly improve training, as well as benefit purchasers who use this information when comparing products.

Information and training:
The new standard requires workers, including cleaning workers, be trained by December 1, 2013 on new label elements and SDS format. While the training deadline is quickly approaching, janitorial supply distributors will be able to sell their current inventory until December 1, 2015 providing ample time to effectively manage their inventory.

"While some changes have already been implemented, others will be phased in over the next two years," says Ashkin.  "This may cause some disruption, but we must remember the ultimate goal: protecting you, the cleaning professional, as well as everyone else who has exposure to cleaning chemicals."
* A pictogram consists of a symbol on a white background framed within a red, square-on-point border, designed to communicate a distinct hazard graphically.
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About Stephen Ashkin and The Ashkin Group
Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in Greening the cleaning industry, and CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, which offers a cloud-based dashboard that allows organizations to measure, report and improve their sustainability efforts. He is also
coauthor of both The Business of Green Cleaning and Green Cleaning for Dummies.  
Ashkin has worked in the cleaning industry since 1981 and has held senior management positions in leading consumer and commercial product companies. He began his work on Green Cleaning in 1990 and today is thought of as the "father of Green cleaning". For more information, visit

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