Date:Sun, 21 Mar 2004 22:46:09
From OSHA at www.osha.gov
OSHA Trade Release
March 16, 2004
Contact: Layne Lathram
OSHA Launches Hazard Communication Initiative
Compliance Assistance, Enforcement Will Improve Workplace Hazard Communication
WASHINGTON -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, today announced a new initiative to focus attention on hazard communication in the workplace, following an Agency review of current issues. Consisting of compliance assistance and enforcement components, it is aimed at improving the quality of hazard communication and helping employers and employees comply with the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). The HCS, adopted 20 years ago, covers some 650,000 hazardous chemical products and more than 30 million American workers. An attached fact sheet provides more details on the initiative.
"Appropriate and accurate hazard communication is essential to safe chemical management programs in the workplace," said Assistant Secretary Henshaw. "Employers need good information to design protective programs for their employees, and employees need the same information to protect themselves. This initiative will help improve that process."
Compliance assistance is a key component of the initiative. OSHA has developed a new page on the agency's website which contains compliance assistance materials, OSHA's review of the issues, and draft documents for public comment:
• Hazard Determination Guidance will help chemical manufacturers and importers identify the right information, assess it and translate it into a proper hazard determination. This is posted for public comment on the Hazard Communication page on OSHA's website.
• Model Training Program provides guidance for developing and conducting an employee training program, including a number of slides that employers can adapt to their workplaces. This is also posted for comment.
• Guidance for Preparation of MSDSs will be posted for comment after comment periods close for the first two documents. It will address accuracy and comprehensibility of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) and will suggest sources of information and types of information to include. Chemical manufacturers and importers must develop MSDSs on each product they identify as hazardous.
Education and outreach are vital to compliance assistance efforts. OSHA has formed an Alliance with the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication (SCHC), a professional society that focuses on hazard communication issues. OSHA and SCHC will work together to produce several products for this initiative, including a course for small businesses on preparation of MSDSs; development of a training program for OSHA compliance staff on review of MSDS information; and development of a checklist to use to review MSDSs for the inclusion of certain information will be made available on OSHA's website. OSHA will also work with other Alliance Program participants to provide outreach on this issue.
In addition, internationally developed and peer reviewed International Chemical Safety Cards (ICSCs), are available on OSHA's website to use as a screening tool for reviewing MSDSs. They cover more than 1300 substances and are available in multiple languages.
For the enforcement component of this initiative, Compliance Safety and Health Officers will use sample hazard information on selected chemicals to check the accuracy of MSDSs. Deficiencies will be brought to the attention of the party responsible for supplying the MSDS, and failure to make corrections may result in the issuance of citations.
OSHA is also evaluating the adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), and preparing a guide to increase awareness of the GHS. Adoption of the GHS in the United States could improve the quality of MSDSs and labels.
For more information, see http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/hazardcommunications/index.html