Tuesday, September 24, 2013

OSHA & Canadian Health Dept Sign Memorandum of understanding hazard communication standards

June 19, 2013
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA and Canadian health department sign Memorandum of Understanding
to align hazardous communication standards

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch of the Department of Health of Canada. The MOU allows OSHA and HECS to collaborate on implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling in their respective jurisdictions, as well as any future developments of the GHS.

"Today we live and work in a global environment with varying and sometimes conflicting national and international requirements," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "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."
During a ceremony today at U.S. Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C., Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health signed a partnership agreement with Suzy McDonald, director general, Workplace Hazardous Materials Directorate, HECS. Under the agreement, OSHA and HECS will establish a working group to reduce systematic barriers between the systems responsible for occupational safety and health of workplace chemicals and collaborate to reach common positions for the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the GHS about proposed updates to the system, among other goals.

OSHA is participating in the US-Canada High Level Regulatory Coordination Council to improve regulatory cooperation and adopt compatible approaches to promote economic growth, job creation and benefits to consumers and businesses through increased regulatory transparency and coordination.
OSHA aligned its Hazard Communication Standard with the GHS in March 2012 to provide a common, understandable approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. In the U.S., all employers with hazardous chemicals in the workplace must conduct new training for workers on the new label elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding. This training must be done by Dec. 1, 2013.

Further information for workers, employers and downstream users of hazardous chemicals can be reviewed at OSHA's Hazard Communication Web page at http://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html, which includes links to OSHA's revised Hazard Communication Standard and guidance materials such as frequently asked questions and OSHA fact sheets and Quick Cards.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Estimated benefits of Hazard Communication revision

Q: What are the estimated benefits attributable to the revised Hazard Communication Standard?

A: OSHA expects that the modifications to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) will result in increased safety and health for the affected employees and reduce the numbers of accidents, fatalities, injuries, and illnesses associated with exposures to hazardous chemicals. The GHS revisions to the HCS standard for labeling and safety data sheets would enable employees exposed to workplace chemicals to more quickly obtain and to more easily understand information about the hazards associated with those chemicals. In addition, the revisions to HCS are expected to improve the use of appropriate exposure controls and work practices that can reduce the safety and health risks associated with exposure to hazardous chemicals.

OSHA estimates that the revised HCS will result in the prevention of 43 fatalities and 585 injuries and illnesses (318 non-lost-workday injuries and illnesses, 203 lost-workday injuries and illnesses, and 64 chronic illnesses) annually. The monetized value of this reduction in occupational risks is an estimated $250 million a year on an annualized basis.

OSHA estimates that the revised HCS will result in savings of $475.2 million from productivity improvements for health and safety managers and logistics personnel, $32.2 million during periodic updating of SDSs and labels, and $285.3 million from simplified hazard communication training.

OSHA anticipates that, in addition to safety and health benefits, the revised HCS will result in four types of productivity benefits: (1) for chemical manufacturers, because they will need to produce fewer SDSs in future years; (2) for employers, in providing training to new employees as required by the existing OSHA HCS through the improved consistency of the labels and SDSs. (3) for firms engaging in, or considering engaging in, international trade.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Training Requirements for the Revised Hazard Communication Standard cont'd

Training on the format of the SDS must include information on:

• Standardized 16-section format, including the type of information found in the various sections

✓ For example, the employee should be instructed that with the new format, Section 8 (Exposure Controls/Personal Protection) will always contain information about exposure limits, engineering controls and ways to protect yourself, including personal protective equipment.

• How the information on the label is related to the SDS

✓ For example, explain that the precautionary statements would be the same on the label and on the SDS.

As referenced in Dr. Michaels’ OSHA Training Standards Policy Statement (April 28, 2010) – with all training, OSHA requires employers to present information in a manner and language that their employees can understand. If employers customarily need to communicate work instructions or other workplace information to employees in a language other than English, they will also need to provide safety and health training to employees in the same manner. Similarly, if the employee’s vocabulary is limited, the training must account for that limitation. By the same token, if employees are not literate, telling them to read training materials will not satisfy the employer’s training obligation.

OSHA’s Hazard Communication website has the following QuickCards and OSHA Briefs to assist employers with the required training.

• Label QuickCard (English/Spanish)
• Pictogram QuickCard (English/Spanish)
• Safety Data Sheet QuickCard (English) (Spanish)
• Safety Data Sheet OSHA Brief
• Label/Pictogram OSHA Brief (to come)