OSHA Modifies HazCom Enforcement Position Good-faith efforts may be enough to comply with impending deadline

By Roy Maurer Apr 1, 2015
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Chemical manufacturers and importers that have documented their efforts to communicate with upstream suppliers about meeting upcoming safety data sheet and chemical labeling requirements but have not yet received accurate information will not be cited for a failure to comply.

Beginning June 1, 2015, chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers must ensure all chemicals are shipped out with new labels and safety data sheets that comply with provisions under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) updated Hazard Communication Standard.

OSHA issued an enforcement memo Feb. 9, 2015, stating that the June 1 deadline for using compliant safety data sheets and labels is still in effect, but because chemical mixture classification depends on information from raw-material providers, some manufacturers or importers may not have accurate, up-to-date information.

If these manufacturers have “exercised reasonable diligence and good faith” to classify their chemical mixtures according to the standard and consequently develop compliant safety data sheets and labels, they will be given additional time to comply.

In turn, employers that have not received updated safety data sheets or labels for hazardous chemicals used at the worksite before June 1 will also not be cited.

The memo warns that upstream raw-material suppliers will be cited for not complying with the standard.

Due Diligence

Good-faith efforts include documented oral and written communication with upstream suppliers, documented efforts to find hazard information from alternative sources such as chemical registries, and a clear timeline for when compliance is expected.

Manufacturers and importers must create compliant safety data sheets within six months from the date all hazard information for the mixture is received. Compliant container labels must be created within six months from the date that compliant safety data sheets were created.

Manufacturers and importers unable to comply due to outdated information from suppliers are required to maintain the previous 1994 hazard communication standard material safety data sheets and labels.

The policy is in effect until February 2017.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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