Chemicals, Enforcement and Inspection, Regulatory Developments

OSHA Updates HazCom Rule

On May 20, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule updating the agency’s Hazard Communication (HazCom) Standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.1200) to incorporate updates to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The updated rule takes effect July 19 (89 Fed. Reg. 44144).

The HazCom Standard details manufacturer, importer, and employer responsibilities for chemical safety in the workplace. The standard contains requirements for chemical labels, safety data sheets (SDS), and employee training. The so-called “worker right-to-know” regulation covers requirements for information and training on the physical and health hazards of chemicals in the workplace.

OSHA last revised the HazCom Standard in 2012.

The United Nations’ GHSis a model regulation for chemical testing, hazard classification, and HazCom. The goals of the GHS model regulation include uniform transportation placards, chemical labels, and SDSs for chemicals in international commerce.

Although Revision 8 of the GHS was issued in July 2019, the new OSHA rulemaking amends the HazCom Standard to align U.S. regulation with Revision 7 of the GHS, which was published in 2017.

Major U.S. trading partners—Australia, Canada, and Europe—are updating their regulations to align them with Revision 7. Stakeholders in the regulated community voiced support for better alignment between OSHA’s HazCom Standard and Canada’s hazardous products regulations.

The new rulemaking also addresses issues arising from the 2012 rulemaking. The agency reported receiving requests for clarification of OSHA’s enforcement policy on label requirements for small containers. The new rulemaking incorporates accommodations for small containers and agency guidance unique to very small containers.

OSHA asserted that its new update would better protect workers from chemical hazards by incorporating new hazard classes and categories, improving and streamlining precautionary statements, and providing additional clarification of the agency’s regulatory requirements.

In the preamble to the final rule, OSHA reiterated that chemical manufacturers and importers must determine chemical hazard classes and categories within a class based on normal uses and foreseeable emergencies. Manufacturers’ and importers’ hazard classification of substances must address known intermediates, byproducts, and decomposition products.

OSHA stated its intention to ensure hazard classifications account for downstream uses the manufacturer knows of or could reasonably anticipate and that likely chemical hazards are communicated in the workplace. The agency acknowledged that it isn’t possible for every manufacturer, importer, and distributor to be aware of every single use or application of its products.

The new rulemaking also addresses the content and form of SDSs, aligning the HazCom Standard’s requirements with those in the GHS and Canadian regulations. The revised standard would allow the use of the same SDS in both Canadian and U.S. workplaces, according to the rule’s preamble.

OSHA also issued changes to Appendix A of the HazCom Standard, which addresses requirements for communicating the health hazards of chemicals in the workplace.

OSHA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) February 16, 2021, seeking comments on proposed updates to the HazCom Standard (86 Fed. Reg. 9576).

OSHA’s HazCom Standard was its most cited general industry standard last year and its second most cited standard overall. In fiscal year (FY) 2o23, OSHA cited 3,213 violations.

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