Monday, March 23, 2015

Enforcement Guidance for Hazard Communication Standard Part 2

Time Period for Distributors

The HCS 2012 permits distributors to continue to ship chemicals with HCS 1994 labels until December 1, 2015. 29 CFR 1910.1200(j)(2)(i). However, due to the situation described above - where a manufacturer or importer cannot comply with the June 1, 2015 effective date despite its reasonable diligence and good faith efforts - there may be distributors that are consequently unable to comply with the December 1, 2015 compliance date. In that situation, a CSHO will determine, again on a case-by-case basis, whether a distributor exercised reasonable diligence and good faith to comply with the December 1, 2015 effective date. In making such determination, a CSHO shall consider whether the distributor is able to document its communication with the manufacturer or importer about the circumstances for the noncompliance with HCS 2012. Distributors must provide HCS 2012-compliant SDSs to downstream users with the first shipment after the SDSs are provided by the manufacturer or importer. If a downstream user requests an HCS 2012-compliant SDS that is available prior to receiving a new shipment, the manufacturer, importer, or distributor must provide it immediately.

After having received HCS 2012-compliant SDSs, a distributor's failure to provide the updated SDSs to other distributors or employers along with the first shipment or upon request would be a violation of 1910.1200(g)(7)(i), and a citation should be issued.

In the limited situation described in this memorandum, distributors will be allowed to ship chemicals permissibly labeled with HCS 1994-compliant labels until December 1, 2017.

Duration of Enforcement Guidance

The policy provided in this enforcement guidance shall not exceed two years.
For further information, we are providing a few questions and answers for CSHOs (attached) to assist in responding to specific inquiries. Please share this guidance and the attached information with the State Plans and On-Site Consultation Projects in your region. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Office of Health Enforcement at 202-693-2190.
Attachment: Questions and Answers for CSHOs

Questions and Answers

The following questions and answers can assist CSHOs in responding to issues related to this enforcement guidance related to the HCS 2012 effective date of June 1, 2015.

Question: Has the June 1, 2015 effective date been extended for all manufacturers or importers to produce HCS 2012-compliant SDSs and labels?

Answer: The June 1, 2015 deadline has not been extended for all manufacturers, importers, or product formulators to produce HCS 2012-compliant SDSs and labels. However, manufacturers and product formulators of mixtures that have made reasonable and good faith efforts to meet the effective date but, due to circumstances outside of their control (i.e., have not received upstream suppliers' classifications and SDSs), have not been able to do so, will be allowed a reasonable time period to come into compliance.

Question: I'm a distributor that has pallets of existing stock of individual containers with HCS 1994-compliant labels on them. Do I need to remove the old label from each individual container and replace it with a new HCS 2012-compliant label?

Answer: A distributor may maintain HCS 1994-compliant labels on its existing stock until the effective date in 1910.1200(j)(2)(i). After December 1, 2015, distributors shall not ship chemicals without HCS 2012-compliant labels. In the situation where a distributor's supplier has not been able to comply with the June 1, 2015 compliance date despite reasonable diligence and good faith efforts, the distributor may continue to ship HCS 1994-compliant labels. The distributor must be able to document its communication with the supplier to determine the circumstances for the supplier's noncompliance with HCS 2012.

Question: I'm an employer, and have not received updated SDSs or labels for some of the hazardous chemicals I use in my business. Will OSHA issue a citation to me?

Answer: No. Once you receive HCS 2012-compliant SDSs, you must maintain them. 29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(8). Once you receive HCS 2012-compliant labels, you may either maintain them on the chemical containers or follow the workplace labeling requirements contained in 1910.1200(f)(6)-(10).

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