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OSHA Hazard Communication Standard - What it Means for the Imaging Community
By Marcia Y. Kinter, Vice President of Government and Business Information, SGIA
On March 26, 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its long awaited final rule, amending its Hazard Communication Standard, more commonly known within our industry as the Right-to-Know Program.
The Hazard Communication Standard changes contained in the final rule impact both the chemical manufacturer and imagers. The rule became effective on May 25, 2012; however, implementation with the new provisions will be phased in over several months, with a final implementation date of June 1, 2016.
While manufacturers and employers may opt to comply with either the current standard or the new provisions until effective dates kick in, it is highly recommended that companies start planning now for compliance with all new provisions. When first issued in 1989, the Hazard Communication Standard - or HazCom - provided performance-based standards for the development of labels and material safety data sheets. While a MSDS format was recommended, it was not required, leading to a lack of consistency in the marketplace. This has all changed under the new regulatory provisions. Mirrored after the principles of the Global Harmonization Standard, OSHA sets forth a prescribed format for labeling, and for safety data sheets (SDS), as well as a more robust hazard determination process. In this article, we shall take a look at each of these elements in more detail.
Does this revised standard truly harmonize the US with other countries? The answer is yes, and no. The UN Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals adopted the Global Harmonization Standard (GHS) in December 2002. In 2003, GHS was endorsed by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Countries were encouraged to implement the GHS as soon as possible, and have fully operational systems by 2008. This goal was adopted by countries in the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety, and was endorsed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The US participated in these groups, and agreed to work toward achieving these goals. OSHA first proposed revisions to its HazCom standard in 2006.
The scope of this standard is broad. More than 43 million workers who produce or handle hazardous chemicals, in more than five million workplaces across the country, are impacted by these changes. OSHA estimates that, with these changes, American businesses will see more than $475 million in cost savings due to productivity improvements, fewer updates to safety data sheets and labels, as well as simpler hazard communication training. Further, the revisions were made to reduce trade barriers, by harmonizing with systems around the world. There will be benefits as a result of the changes, and there will be growing pains, as manufacturers and employers, alike, struggle to understand and comply, by the implementation deadlines.
Employers have several key deadlines: December 1, 2013; June 1, 2015; and June 1, 2016. Manufacturers have one deadline of June 1, 2015. Each major section - hazard classification, labeling, safety data sheets, and information and training - contains new requirements.
There are two hazard classes: Physical and health. Each hazard class is further subdivided into hazard categories. These hazard categories are based on the degree of severity. An increase in the hazard category indicates a decrease in the severity of that specific hazard.
As such, Category 1 of any hazard is held to bear the highest level of severity. This is in marked contrast to the Hazard Materials Identification System (HMIS), which is used extensively within our industry sector. Under the HMIS system, Category 4 is denoted as the highest level of severity. It is not recommended that manufacturers or employers continue to use the HMIS system as it is currently constructed. There have been discussions to revise the HMIS system, but no action has been taken to date.
OSHA has introduced a new hazard, known as Hazard Not Elsewhere Classified. Minimally, information must be included in Section 2, Hazards Identification, of the SDS for 'other hazards that do not result in classification (e.g., 'dust explosion hazard') or are not covered by the GHS.' Through this provision, OSHA is seeking to regulate and provide hazard information on simple asphyxiates and combustible dust. This information does not need to be included on the hazard-warning label, but does need to be addressed on the SDS, as well as through employee training.
The new regulations provide specific information that must be included on each label. The major change includes the use of pictograms. As indicated earlier, the hazard determination process is the beginning of the building blocks. This process determines the information that will be included not only on the SDS, but on the label as well. Labels must now include pictograms within a red border. Further, the labels must be provided in English, and all hazard communication elements must be legible. There are no size formats required for either the label or pictograms.
The new label elements include:
As under the old standard, articles are exempt from, both, the labeling and safety data sheet requirements. However, OSHA added a new section to the final rule for 'Solid Materials.' Solid materials are those materials that, due to downstream use, may creazte a hazard. OSHA is specifically referencing the creation of combustible dust, as well as simple asphyxiates. These solid materials, such as wood, plastic or metal, are no longer included under the definition of an article, and must comply with the label and SDS requirements. Labels are only required with the first shipment of the materials.
The other element of labeling concerns the workplace label programs that must continue to be implemented. As with the container labels, the HMIS system can no longer be utilized as the primary means to communicate hazards to employees, as the rating systems between the OSHA standard and HMIS no longer mesh.
The revised regulation still acknowledges the secondary container rule for workplaces. Essentially, this rule states that if an employee is using a secondary container of materials, it does not have to be labeled unless it is stored for future use or passed to another employee. It is assumed that the employee originally using the container understands the hazards associated with the material.
For workplace labeling programs, it is recommended that employers do not remove original labels from containers, unless immediately re-labeled. For workplace programs, signs, placards, process sheets, batch tickets, operating procedures, or other such written materials can be used in conjunction with written materials, instead of affixed labels. If used, these written materials must be readily accessible to employees in their work area, throughout each work shift.
For workplace labels, employers can opt to use the label elements outlined earlier. Or they can opt to use a combination of signal words, pictograms and product identifiers that provide general hazard information, as long as there is other information, such as an SDS that provides the specific hazard information on the product used.
Safety Data Sheets
Manufacturers must complete and provide the data as specified in the format criteria. All headings and subheadings must be followed. A few other major shifts in the provision of information include the requirement to provide threshold limit values as established by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), as well as any carcinogenicity classifications assigned by IARC or NTP. Appendix D of the standard provides the detailed information regarding SDS formatting. By June 1, 2015, all SDS modifications must be in place. The sections of the new SDS are as follows:
This section contains the product identifier used on the label; other means of identification; recommended use of the chemical and restrictions on use; name, address, and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer, or other responsible party; and the emergency telephone number.
Section 2: Hazards identification
Section 3: Composition/Information on ingredients substance/Mixture
Section 4: First aid measures
Also, the most important symptoms/effects, acute and delayed, must be listed in addition to an indication of immediate medical attention and special treatment needed, if necessary.
Section 5: Firefighting measures
Section 6: Accidental release measures
Section 7: Handling and storage
Section 8: Exposure controls/Personal protection
Section 9: Physical and chemical properties
Section 10: Stability and reactivity
Section 11: Toxicological
This section will also inform the use, if the hazardous chemical is listed in the NTP Report on Carcinogens (latest edition), or has been found to be a potential carcinogen in the IARC Monographs (latest edition) or by OSHA.
Section 12: Ecological information (non-mandatory)
Section 13: Disposal considerations (non-mandatory)
Section 14: Transport information (non-mandatory)
Section 15: Regulatory information (non-mandatory)
Section 16: Other information
Employers still must provide training to their employees, so they will recognize the hazards found in the workplace. As mentioned earlier, employers must train their employees to recognize the new warning labels and SDS formats by December 1, 2013. And then, by June 1, 2015, employers must train their employees on any newly identified physical or health hazards.
A Word on Trade Secrets
Manufacturers can still define what is to be considered trade secret information. The regulations specify the conditions under which this information must be disclosed, to ensure the safety and health of exposed employees.
There is one major change that impacts manufacturers of mixtures. Under the revised trade secret provisions, manufacturers are allowed to claim the composition percentage of mixtures on the SDS as confidential.
Marcia Y. Kinter, SGIA's vice president of government and business information, oversees the Association's advocacy program. She represents the specialty imaging community and its associated supplier base before federal and state regulatory agencies and the US Congress on environmental, safety and other issues that directly impact the industry. She is a member and secretary of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology. In 2001, Kinter received the William D. Schaeffer Environmental Award for significant advancement of environmental awareness in the graphic arts industry. email@example.com
This article appeared in the SGIA Journal, September/October 2012 Issue and is reprinted with permission. Copyright 2013 Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (www.sgia.org). All Rights Reserved.
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