OSHA Now Says GHS Alignment with HazCom Standard Coming September 2011

OSHA held a live Web chat today to discuss its regulatory agenda for the rest of the year and MSDSonline asked the first question:

Are you still planning on publishing a final rule on GHS alignment with the HCS in August, or do you have a new timeframe?

OSHA Replied: Thank you for your question. Yes we have updated the timeframe to publish a final rule in September 2011.

That is later than they hoped, but if it holds true, a lot earlier than many expected.

Following are additional highlights pertaining to GHS and injury and illness reporting from the hour long Web chat.

  • OSHA’s preliminary estimate is that updating the Hazard Communication Standard will create a substantial annualized savings for employers of at least $585 million
  • Is the electronic filing of injury and illness data still a priority?

o   OSHA:  Yes. The agency believes the information acquired through this proposed rule will allow employers, employees, employer representatives, the government and researchers to better identify and remove workplace hazards.

  • Can you tell us what issues have delayed the final rule of the HazCom Stanadard?

o   OSHA: Thank you, PM, for your question. The Standard is delayed for a few weeks due to the extensive review of the final standard.

  • You've indicated that the updated Hazard Communication will be published in September. Can you also provide the dates that the updated standard CAN first be followed and evenutally MUST be followed? Thank you.

o   OSHA: Thanks for your question. OSHA proposed a 3 year implementation period. During the rulemaking comment periods and at the public hearings, stakeholders submitted recommended implementation periods ranging from 3 to 15 years. OSHA is considering all of these comments and the implementation period will be announced when the final rule is published.

  • Any further information on whether an Ergonomics Standard will be reintroduced?

o   OSHA: The Agency currently has no plans to add Ergonomics to the regulatory agenda. However, OSHA acknowledges that musculoskeletal disorders account for almost 1/3 of all workplace injuries and illnesses requiring time away from work. Rather than promulgating an ergonomic scandal at this time, OSHA will continue addressing this issue through providing guidance as well as through enforcement using the general duty clause under 5 (a)(1).

  • Is it recommended that chemical manufacturers begin classifcation of its products according to GHS prior to finalization? Would there be a risk of over or under classifying?

o   OSHA: A company may opt to classify the products according to GHS as long as it also follows the current Hazard Communication Standard, and the company must assess whether the chemical is appropriately classified.

  • With GHS aligment...what is the minimum information required on a workplace or secondary container label?

o   OSHA: Thank you for your question. OSHA did not propose any changes in the requirements for workplace labeling, and any changes in workplace labeling will be announced when the final rule is published.

  • What will the final GHS rule do with the TLVs? Will they still be listed within the haz com standard?

o   OSHA: Thank you for your question. In the proposal, OSHA requested comments from stakeholders regarding the value of including TLVs and PELs on the SDS. OSHA received significant comment from stakeholders on this issue. The Agency’s final determination on the issue will be addressed in the final rule.

  • Has OSHA considered adding a language translation requirement to the regs on MSDS? If not, why not? If yes, what's the status of those considerations?

o   OSHA: Thank you for your question. OSHA did not propose any changes in the language requirements in the Hazard Communication Standard. However, GHS is designed to enable workers of limited literacy in the English language to understand the information.

  • We are already seeing GHS labels on some incoming products. Can I just add a GHS section on our current Haz Com training to cover these labels and SDS?

o   OSHA: Thank you for your question. Yes you may.

  • With a final rule pending a review by OMB, is it expected that the cost/benefit analysis for successful GHS implementation may change?

o   OSHA: Alfonso, thank you for your question. OSHA’s preliminary estimate is that updating the Hazard Communication Standard will create a substantial annualized savings for employers of at least $585 million. The majority of these benefits will be realized through increases in productivity for health and safety managers as well as for logistics personnel.

  • Has the agency thought about removing the proposed silica standard from the regulatory agenda since there is evidence that worker exposure is relatively low (perhaps even lower than the proposed PEL) across a number of industries?
  • At this point, does OSHA anticpate the final rule of HazCom Standard to reflect that which was proposed? Are there any changes that you can tell us about?

o   OSHA: Thank you for your question. OSHA has reviewed all the material submitted during the proposal comment periods. The Agency’s final determination on all the issues will be addressed in the final rule.

  • As part of the new Hazcomm standard, has OSHA given any thought to becoming the central repository for all MSDS (or its replacement) so that all companies have a single place to go for info. As it is, trying to manage MSDSs and making sure that they are up-to-date plant by plant or corporately is a time consuming task for the amount of good it provides. A central warehousing system by OSHA would be great with a requirement that all manufacturers of chemicals must send a standardized electronic data file for each chemical.

o   OSHA: Thanks for your question. OSHA did not propose any changes in the provisions on the accessibilities and materials safety data sheets in the workplace. We will consider this in the future.

  • "Modernizing OSHA’s Reporting System (RIN: 1218-AC49). OSHA is in the process of making changes to its reporting system for occupational injuries and illnesses so that it can collect data in a more timely and efficient manner." This seems rather vague. Could you specify exactly what these changes would be? Thank you.

o   OSHA: Wayne, thank you for your question. This is OSHA’s rulemaking to electronically collect occupational injury and illness data that is already compiled and maintained by employers. This effort will not add to or change any employer’s obligation to complete and retain the injury and illness records or change the recording criteria or definitions for these records. This will only modify employers’ obligations to transmit information from their records to OSHA. This rulemaking is currently in draft form and it will be published as a notice of proposed rulemaking. At that point, the public will have an opportunity to submit comments.

  • Okay...so secondary container label requirements are not set to change under GHS. Then what is the minimum requirement under the current HCS. For instance, if a company labeled secondary containers with numbers...but everyone in the company was trained to understand that the number on the container corresponded to a certain chemical and knew where to find the MSDS based upon that information...would that work. Or do you have to have at least the product identifier on the label?

o   OSHA: Thanks for your question. Regarding the use of secondary or workplace labeling, OSHA did not propose any changes to what is currently required under the Hazard Communication Standard. OSHA will provide clarification on this issue in the final rule.

  • In what ways is the proposed I2P2 standard different than the Safety and Health Program?

o   OSHA: Don, if you are referring to the 1989 Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines, the Injury and Illness Prevention Program will represent an improved, more systematic approach to managing workplace health and safety.

  • Is there any indication on how closely the draft I2P2 standard will mirror the California IIPP?

o   OSHA: Guest, at least 15 states have rules containing safety and health program requirements; other states offer incentives under their workers compensation programs for companies that have effective safety and health programs. We will be looking at all of them for effective approaches.

  • Can we begin to author and distribute SDSs in the GHS format prior to the adoption of the final rule?

o   OSHA: IM, thank you for your question. Yes, OSHA does not currently require a set format for the SDS. The GHS format is a commonly used format already.

  • Is there any discussion concerning the maintaining of MSDS (SDS's) in the HAZCOM proposed rule? Currently if electronic means are used to maintain MSDS's a backup system is required.

o   OSHA: Thank you for your question. OSHA did not propose any changes in how a workplace must maintain its SDS’ and the final determination on this issue will be addressed in the final rule.

  • Is there still any talk of templates and tools to help with I2P2 Compliance?

o   OSHA: LK, OSHA intends to develop compliance assistance materials, such as model programs, hazard identification tools, and program evaluation tools to help employers and employees implement this important rule.

  • There have been studies showing that the list of chemical ingredients on MSDSs is often not accurate. Additionally, small business owners often have a hard time obtaining them. Has there been any thought to conduct random auditing of MSDS's to ensure accuracy? And what about penalties for not providing MSDSs?kind of enforcement madom not accurate MSDS's

o   OSHA: Thanks for the suggestions. OSHA currently conducts enforcement with regard to material safety data sheets. The agency does not have any plans at this time to conduct audits. However, OSHA believes that the accuracy of the information on SDS will improve as a result of the final rule.

  • Is there a document that compares the 1989 SHMP witht the I2P2 standard?

o   OSHA: Don, the Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule making is still in draft form, and we will consider developing such a document to accompany the proposal.

  • You stated, "However, OSHA believes that the accuracy of the information on SDS will improve as a result of the final rule" Why do you believe this - what will make it improve?

o   OSHA: Thanks for your question. The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) provides harmonized criteria for classifying substances and mixtures, according to their health and physical hazards, and specifies hazard communication elements, including requirements for safety data sheets. Through this system, OSHA believes that the information will be more consistent and easier to access.

  • How is the work on a possible infectious diseases rule affected by OSHA's past history with a proposed tuberculosis rule?

o   OSHA: Michele, thank you for your question. OSHA has a long standing interest in protecting workers from infectious diseases, most notably tuberculosis, bloodborne pathogens, influenza and hantavirus. The agency noted the impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Canada and Asia in 2003 as well as the significant lessons learned in preparing for a potential H5N1 pandemic as well the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. As a result, OSHA is concerned about protecting workers from these and other such infectious diseases. While the agency learned a great deal from the previously proposed tuberculosis rule, the agency is considering the current infectious disease activity in the larger context of standard and transmission-based precautions rather than on a disease by disease basis.

  • If the timetable for the GHS final rule is September 2011, why is the final rule not included on the OMB under review documents now?

o   OSHA: Thanks for your question. The GHS final rule has not been submitted to OMB yet.

  • When will the hazcom final rule go to OMB?

o   OSHA: PM, thanks for your question. The Haz Com final rule is entering final Departmental review and will be sent to OMB once this review is complete.