Chemicals, EHS Administration, Regulatory Developments

New SNUR Requirements Will Better Protect Worker Health

In July 2022, the EPA finalized amendments to its requirements for Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) to better protect the health of workers. One of the uses of SNURs is to require notice to the EPA before chemical substances and mixtures are used in new ways that might create health concerns. These amendments strengthen requirements that ensure workers have access to clear and consistent information about the risks they may face from toxic substances.

These amendments, effective September 6, 2022, include:

  • The alignment of the EPA’s rules for toxic substances’ labels with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) rules for safety data sheets, ensuring that hazard statements and precautionary statements are used consistently throughout hazard communications.
  • Provisions to strengthen the EPA’s requirements that companies educate workers on risks and on the effective use of any required personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Provisions to ease EPA issuance of new chemical SNURs requiring manufacturers to notify the EPA if they intend to use a substance without considering and implementing engineering controls where feasible. Upon receipt of these notices, the EPA will then review the use to determine the potential for unreasonable risks to human health and the environment and ensure any needed protections are put in place before that use can commence. According to OSHA, engineering and administrative controls are potentially more effective and protective than PPE, and following a hierarchical approach to worker safety generally leads to the implementation of inherently safer systems.
  • A minor change to reporting requirements for premanufacture notices (PMNs) and other Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) notifications.

These amendments only apply to SNURs issued after September 6, 2022.

In addition to better coordinating EPA regulations with OSHA rules, the amendments are part of an ongoing Agency trend to ensure policies and regulations are enacted that better align the EPA’s new chemicals program with the amended TSCA.

Primary industries impacted include:

  • Chemical manufacturers (North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 325)
  • Petroleum and coal products (NAICS code 324)
  • Merchant wholesalers, nondurable goods (NAICS code 424)

The EPA rulemaking states that the Agency “expects these changes to have minimal impact on the costs and burdens of compliance.”

Agency authority for this action occurs under Section 5 of TSCA, which requires the EPA to determine whether the use of a chemical substance is a “significant new use.” After considering all relevant factors, the EPA determination is issued through the promulgation of a SNUR. After a SNUR is issued, industry is required to submit a Significant New Use Notice (SNUN) to the EPA at least 90 days before manufacturing or processing a chemical substance for that use.

TSCA Section 5(a)(1)(B) requires persons to notify the EPA at least 90 days before manufacturing (which includes import) a new chemical substance for commercial purposes. TSCA Section 3(11) defines a “new chemical substance” as any substance that is not on the TSCA Inventory of Chemical Substances compiled by the EPA under TSCA Section 8(b).

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