NASF OSHA Alert: OSHA Proposed Update to Hazard Communication Standard

OSHA recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend and update the agency’s Hazard Communication Standard. 
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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend and update the agency's Hazard Communication Standard. NASF reached OSHA officials and discussed the changes the day the new rulemaking package was announced. The formal proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on February 16, 2021 and can be found here.

The move would update the current US regulation to align with the most recent version (revision 7) of the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). It also seeks to harmonize provisions of the HCS with Canada and other U.S. agencies, and respond to issues that have emerged from industry and other stakeholders since OSHA's last change to the standard in 2012.

redline version showing proposed revisions to the current standard, as well as a general overview presentation by OSHA and other materials and updates, can be found here. If NASF members have specific concerns, please contact crichter@thepolicygroup.com or jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com.

Brief Background 

The current OSHA standard was first issued in 1983 and provides a standardized approach to workplace hazard communications associated with exposure to hazardous chemicals.

The most recent 2012 update was a significant change. It aligned the Hazard Communication Standard with GHS revision 3, which created a more formalized and systematic approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information through a new approach for Safety Data Sheet (SDS).

The changes proposed last week had been in preparation by agency officials under the Trump administration for some time.

OSHA’s Objectives for the Proposed Rule

OSHA notes that it expects the updated changes will improve worker protections and reduce chemical-related workplace illnesses and injuries by revising the information on labels and safety data sheets (SDS) for hazardous chemicals.

The agency has also determined that the proposed changes would make the standard more effective by improving communication of hazard information so that employees are better apprised of the chemical hazards to which they may be exposed.

Selected Changes

Among the modifications included in the new proposed rule are:

  • Bulk Shipments - Additional flexibility for labeling bulk shipments of hazardous chemicals, including allowing labels to be placed on the immediate container or transmitted with shipping papers, bills of lading, or by other technological or electronic means that are immediately available to workers in printed form on the receiving end of the shipment;
  • Labeling Options - More alternative labeling options where a manufacturer or importer can demonstrate that it is not feasible to use traditional pull-out labels, fold-back labels, or tags containing the full label information normally required under the standard, including specific alternative requirements for containers less than or equal to 100ml capacity and for containers less than or equal to 3ml capacity.
  • Updates on Hazards - New requirements to update the labels on individual containers that have been released for shipment but are awaiting future distribution where the manufacturer, importer or distributer becomes aware of new significant information regarding the hazards of the chemical.

Other changes to the existing standard are proposed as well.

NASF is now reviewing the proposed rule changes and plans to submit comments on significant finishing industry concerns, in concert with other manufacturing organizations. The deadline for comments on the rule is April 19, 2021.

If you have questions, please reach NASF by contacting Jeff Hannapel at jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com or Christian Richter at crichter@thepolicygroup.com

This OSHA update is courtesy of the National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF). For more information or to become a member, visit nasf.org.