Monday, October 28, 2013

News Release: New resources regarding Hazardous Chemicals

Trade News Release Banner Image

OSHA Statement: 13-2026-NAT
Date: Oct. 24, 2013
Contact: Jesse Lawder     Adriano Llosa
Phone: 202-693-4659     202-693-4686
OSHA releases new resources to better protect workers
from hazardous chemicals

WASHINGTON – Each year in the United States, tens of thousands of workers are made sick or die from occupational exposures to the thousands of hazardous chemicals that are used in workplaces every day. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today launched two new web resources to assist companies with keeping their workers safe.

While many chemicals are suspected of being harmful, OSHA's exposure standards are out-of-date and inadequately protective for the small number of chemicals that are regulated in the workplace. The first resource OSHA has created is a toolkit to identify safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous ones. This toolkit walks employers and workers step-by-step through information, methods, tools and guidance to either eliminate hazardous chemicals or make informed substitution decisions in the workplace by finding a safer chemical, material, product or process.

"We know that the most efficient and effective way to protect workers from hazardous chemicals is by eliminating or replacing those chemicals with safer alternatives whenever possible," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. 

OSHA also created another new web resource: the Annotated Permissible Exposure Limits, or annotated PEL tables, which will enable employers to voluntarily adopt newer, more protective workplace exposure limits. OSHA's PELs set mandatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air to protect workers against the health effects of certain hazardous chemicals; and OSHA will continue to enforce those mandatory PELs. Since OSHA's adoption of the majority of its PELs more than 40 years ago, new scientific data, industrial experience and developments in technology clearly indicate that in many instances these mandatory limits are not sufficiently protective of workers' health. 

"There is no question that many of OSHA's chemical standards are not adequately protective," Michaels said. "I advise employers, who want to ensure that their workplaces are safe, to utilize the occupational exposure limits on these annotated tables, since simply complying with OSHA's antiquated PELs will not guarantee that workers will be safe."

The annotated PEL tables provide a side-by-side comparison of OSHA PELs for general industry to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health PELs, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommended exposure limits, and American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist threshold limit values. They offer an easily accessible reference source for up-to-date workplace exposure limits.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

MSDS or SDS in December 2013?

Many employers are anticipating the mandatory, OSHA regulated change from the old Material Safety Data Sheet format to the new required GHS-aligned Safety Data Sheet format within the next few months.  This is not a very accurate portrayal of the transition ahead.  Employers are required to ensure their employees are trained regarding the new Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), including the new format of the Safety Data Sheet (SDS).  However, the date by which all chemical manufacturers are to have all sheets switched to the new format is not until June 1, 2015.  In the mean time, managing MSDS/SDS is going to be a nightmare.  Each employer will possibly have a mixture of the old format with the new format.  Not only will employers need to handle the 2 different formats, but as manufacturers continue to transition (deadline June 1, 2015), they are releasing sheets that are neither the old format or the new format.  They commonly will have a mixture of data from the old Material Safety Data Sheet, along with elements in the Safety Data Sheet (GHS-aligned) format.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Webinar by Compli

As we continue to approach the December 1, 2013 training deadline, employers must ensure their employees are properly trained for the significant changes made to the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. is hosting a webinar on November 6, 2013 to help employers prepare for the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) compliant OSHA regulations.

Globally Harmonized System (GHS) - Are You Ready? 
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Successful businesses have strong worker safety and OSHA compliance programs, but regulatory changes can challenge even the best companies. Under the new OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HAZCOM), employers must provide training for workers to align with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, by December 1, 2013. What does this mean for your business? Are you compliant and safe?
Join ComplĂ­ and Kris Bonner, Principal Consultant with the EH&S consulting firm EORM, as we discuss what you will need to know to keep your business compliant and successful under the new OSHA GHS requirements.

Learning Objectives:
  • Find out what GHS is and why it was adopted
  • Learn about the classification of hazards and label requirements
  • Understand how to take chemical inventory & safety data sheets
  • Identify the key differences between State and Federal obligations
  • And more...
This Webinar will conclude with a live Q&A Session, so please have your questions ready.
*Note: Not a toll-free phone number

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Interpretation of OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard for Combustible Dust

March 25, 2013

Re: Request for Interpretation of OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard for Combustible Dust

Dear Mr. S***:

This is in response to your inquiry on behalf of the American Chemistry Council concerning how OSHA's March 26, 2012, revisions to its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012) apply to combustible dust. Below I summarize each of your questions and provide our response to it.
  1. Hazard Statement. Under HCS 2012, chemicals that have been classified as combustible dusts must include the following hazard statement on their labels and safety data sheets (SDSs): "May form combustible dust concentrations in air." You ask whether, for chemicals that pose a combustible dust hazard when processed but not in the current shipped form, the responsible party1 may include additional language with the hazard statement. You propose two alternatives (indicated by italics):

    1. If converted to small particles during further processing, handling, or by other means, may form combustible dust concentrations in air.
    2. If small particles are generated during further processing, handling or by other means, may form combustible dust concentrations in air.
  2. OSHA RESPONSE: Paragraph C.3.1 of Appendix C to HCS 2012 states that the responsible party may provide additional information on a label "when it provides further detail and does not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the standardized hazard information." OSHA views either of the alternatives you propose as falling within C.3.1 because they provide additional detail and do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the required hazard statement where the chemical does not present a combustible dust hazard in the form shipped. Similarly, the required elements listed in Appendix D for SDSs are the minimum information required and OSHA believes that additional information that satisfies C.3.1 may be included in Section 2 of the SDS if the additional information concerns hazard identification. Therefore, it would be acceptable to OSHA if responsible parties included either alternative in conjunction with the required hazard statement on labels and SDSs for such chemicals.

  3. Safety Data Sheets. Your two questions on SDSs also pertain to chemicals that are not a combustible dust in the form shipped but that may present a combustible dust hazard under normal conditions of use due to the way they are processed by a downstream user.

    1. You ask whether SDSs may include additional information and explanatory statements, and provided us with a hypothetical SDS containing such information. In general, OSHA does not offer letters of interpretation passing on the adequacy of particular SDSs because OSHA does not possess the manufacturers' knowledge about the hazards and use of the product. OSHA is not making a determination on the adequacy of the hypothetical SDS you provided, however, there are a few general issues presented that OSHA can provide an interpretation on.

      In Section 2 (Hazard Identification) of the SDS, you propose listing:

      1. "OSHA Hazard Category: Combustible Dust";
      2. "GHS Hazard Categories: Not classified";
      3. "OSHA label elements," including the fact that there is no pictogram, a signal word of "Warning," the hazard statement for combustible dust with the additional language noted above in 1.b., and certain precautionary statements about the combustible dust hazard;
      4. Information about any hazards not otherwise classified presented by the product; and
      5. HMIS and NFPA ratings for the product.
    2. OSHA RESPONSE: For purposes of this response, OSHA assumes that the SDS is for a chemical that poses a combustible dust hazard arising from downstream processing, but not in the shipped form, and that it presents no other HCS-covered hazards. In such cases, OSHA views the language in items (i) and (ii) above as being consistent with the requirements of Section 2(a) of Appendix D of HCS 2012.
      For item (iii), it is consistent with Section 2(b) of Appendix D to note that there is no pictogram" and to use the same additional language that appears on the label in conjunction with the required hazard warning language. The signal word "Warning" is also required. OSHA has no required precautionary statements for combustible dust, and therefore none are required in Section 2 of the SDS. Responsible parties may add their own precautionary statements to Section 2 so long as they are relevant and do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the other information in the SDS.
      The information referenced in item (iv) is required by Section 2(c) of Appendix D. On item (v), responsible parties may include HMIS and NFPA ratings in Section 2 of the SDS as long as they do not contradict or cast doubt on the HCS 2012 classification.
    3. Appendix C.4.30, footnote 2, states that where chemicals are not shipped in a dust form but may be processed under normal conditions of use by a downstream user in such a way as to create a combustible dust hazard, the responsible party may provide labels in accordance with 1910.1200(f)(4). That provision allows labels to be provided once to downstream users, either with the initial shipment or with the SDS for the chemical. You ask whether it would be acceptable to provide the (f)(4) label by printing it at the top of the first page of the SDS.
  4. OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, where (f)(4) applies, it is acceptable to provide the label by printing it at the top of the first page of the SDS. Note that the (f)(4) partial labeling exemption is available only for chemicals that present no HCS 2012-covered hazard in the form shipped. If a chemical presents an HCS 2012-covered hazard in the form shipped, for example a health hazard, the (f)(4) exemption would not apply even if the chemical presents a combustible dust hazard only after processing in the normal conditions of use.
  5. Labels on shipped containers. You have several questions concerning the labeling of chemicals presenting a combustible dust hazard.
    1. You ask whether it is acceptable for a shipped container containing a chemical that presents a combustible dust hazard to include an HMIS label in addition to the information required by 1910.1200(f)(1) and C.4.30.

      OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, so long as the ratings in the HMIS label do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of label information required by HCS 2012 (C.3.1) or impede the user's ability to identify the information required by HCS 2012 (C.3.2).
    2. You also ask whether, when (f)(4) applies, the shipped container may bear a label containing only product identifiers, manufacturer name and address, and an emergency phone number. In addition, you ask whether, in addition to the information contained in the previous sentence, the container may also bear an HMIS label.

      OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, where (f)(4) applies and the HCS 2012 label has already been provided by other means, either of these alternatives are acceptable. In fact, OSHA encourages responsible parties to provide product identifier and contact information on each shipped product whenever they take advantage of the (f)(4) option. However, any information that appears may not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the label information required by HCS 2012.
    3. Finally, you ask whether, under footnote 2 to C.4.30, the (f)(4) partial labeling exemption is available for a liquid that under normal conditions of use may turn into a solid form that presents a combustible dust hazard.
  6. OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, assuming the liquid in its shipped form presents no other hazards that would be classified under HCS 2012. As discussed in 2.b, if the liquid presents any other hazards, then (f)(4) would not apply. Again, OSHA encourages responsible parties to provide the product identifier and contact information on each such product.
  7. Workplace labels. This issue concerns the workplace labeling requirements under 1910.1200(f)(6) in situations where a chemical is not a combustible dust in the form shipped, but may become one when processed by a downstream user. Your first question is whether, when the responsible party provides the label in accordance with (f)(4), the downstream user must label any containers containing the chemical in the workplace. Second, you ask if whether, once the product is processed in a way to create the combustible dust hazard, the employer may warn of the hazard by labeling the area (consistent with 1910.1200(f)(7)) where the processing of the materials generates sufficient dust to present a combustible dust hazard in lieu of affixing an (f)(1) label to each container. Finally, if the materials are not in a "container," as defined in 1910.1200(c), but the processing of the materials (e.g., the sawing of PVC pipes or lumber) is such that it may create a potential combustible dust hazard, you ask whether the employer may warn of the hazard by labeling the work areas (consistent with 1910.1200(f)(7)) where the processing of the materials takes place in lieu of affixing an (f)(6) label on each piece of piping or lumber.
  8. OSHA RESPONSE: This response assumes the only HCS 2012-covered hazard presented by the chemical is that related to combustible dust. On your first question, the workplace labeling requirement would begin only once the chemical is brought into the work area where it will be processed in a way to create the combustible dust hazard. On your second question, 1910.1200(f)(7) states that for stationary process containers, the employer may use signs or placards "as long as the alternative method identifies the containers to which it is applicable and conveys the information required by paragraph (f)(6) of this section to be on the label." Thus, for stationary process containers, so long as the signs or placards used in your scenario are easily visible to the employees in the work area, convey the information required by (f)(6), and identify the containers to which they are applicable, the employer's workplace labeling obligation for the chemical would be satisfied. Other containers must bear the information specified in (f)(6). At a minimum, (f)(6) requires the product identifier and words, pictures and/or symbols that provide general information of the hazard, and in conjunction with other information immediately available to the employees, provides employees with the specific information about the combustible dust hazard.
Finally, the workplace labeling requirements in (f)(6) apply only to chemicals that are in containers. Thus, individual boards or pipes that might create a combustible dust hazard when cut do not need to be labeled under (f)(6). It is permissible (and OSHA encourages) the use of signs or placards to advise workers of the hazard in such circumstances, but signs and placards are not required.

Of course, the employer has other responsibilities under HCS 2012 for these products as well, including training, maintaining SDSs, and providing SDSs to employees in an easily accessible manner.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Training Materials for GHS Aligned Hazard Communication Standards (HCS)

New changes to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard are bringing the United States into alignment with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), further improving safety and health protections for America's workers. Building on the success of OSHA's current Hazard Communication Standard, the GHS is expected to prevent injuries and illnesses, save lives and improve trade conditions for chemical manufacturers. The Hazard Communication Standard in 1983 gave the workers the 'right to know,' but the new Globally Harmonized System gives workers the 'right to understand.'

The new hazard communication standard still requires chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate the chemicals they produce or import and provide hazard information to employers and workers by putting labels on containers and preparing safety data sheets. However, the old standard allowed chemical manufacturers and importers to convey hazard information on labels and material safety data sheets in whatever format they chose. The modified standard provides a single set of harmonized criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health and physical hazards and specifies hazard communication elements for labeling and safety data sheets. 

Benefits: The new standard covers over 43 million workers who produce or handle hazardous chemicals in more than five million workplaces across the country. The modification is expected to prevent over 500 workplace injuries and illnesses and 43 fatalities annually. Once fully implemented it will also:
  • Improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive;
  • Enhance worker comprehension of hazards, especially for low and limited-literacy workers, reduce confusion in the workplace, facilitate safety training, and result in safer handling and use of chemicals;
  • Provide workers quicker and more efficient access to information on the safety data sheets;
  • Result in cost savings to American businesses of more than $475 million in productivity improvements, fewer safety data sheet and label updates and simpler new hazard communication training: and
  • Reduce trade barriers by harmonizing with systems around the world.
Major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard:
  • Hazard classification: Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import. Hazard classification under the new, updated standard provides specific criteria to address health and physical hazards as well as classification of chemical mixtures.
  • Labels: 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.
  • Safety Data Sheets: The new format requires 16 specific sections, ensuring consistency in presentation of important protection information.
  • Information and training: To facilitate understanding of the new system, the new standard requires that workers be trained by December 1, 2013 on the new label elements and safety data sheet format, in addition to the current training requirements.
What you need to do and when:
  • Chemical users: Continue to update safety data sheets when new ones become available, provide training on the new label elements and update hazard communication programs if new hazards are identified.
  • Chemical Producers: Review hazard information for all chemicals produced or imported, classify chemicals according to the new classification criteria, and update labels and safety data sheets.
Effective Completion Date Requirement(s) Who
December 1, 2013 Train employees on the new label elements and SDS format. Employers
June 1, 2015*

December 1, 2015
Comply with all modified provisions of this final rule, except:

Distributors may ship products labeled by manufacturers under the old system until December 1, 2015.
Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers
June 1, 2016 Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards. Employers
Transition Period Comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (this final standard), or the current standard, or both. All chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers
* This date coincides with the European Union implementation date for classification of mixtures.

National Safety Compliance Inc has produced an excellent GHS/Hazard Communication In-Depth Training Kit for just $345.  For more information regarding this package, feel free to contact them at or 1-877-922-7233