Learn About OSHA Hazcom 2012 Inspections

OSHA presented an overview of its Compliance Directive covering Inspection procedures for Hazcom 2012 in September 2015.

The free event is archived and available here

ECHA gives tips on EU CLP


The EU Chemical Agency has recently issued a guide for chemical users on the practical use of the CLP requirements. A typical excerpt from the guide:2016-08-09_15-45-45

OSHA issues final Silica Rule


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule is comprised of two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime.

OSHA estimates that the rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year, once its effects are fully realized. The Final Rule is projected to provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion, annually.

About 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in general industry operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries, and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Responsible employers have been protecting workers from harmful exposure to respirable crystalline silica for years, using widely-available equipment that controls dust with water or a vacuum system.

Key Provisions

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
  • Requires employers to: use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
  • Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
  • Provides flexibility to help employers — especially small businesses — protect workers from silica exposure.

Compliance Schedule

Both standards contained in the final rule take effect on June 23, 2016., after which industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements, based on the following schedule:

Construction – June 23, 2017, one year after the effective date.

General Industry and Maritime – June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date.

Hydraulic Fracturing – June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date for all provisions except Engineering Controls, which have a compliance date of June 23, 2021.

OSHA Responds to HCS Questions

From AG Professional

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently responded to a letter sent by the Agricultural Retailers Association regarding the implementation of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) of 2012.

In June 2015, ARA, TFI, and RISE wrote to OSHA seeking clarification on how HCS will be applied to the industry’s use of “custom blends.” Specifically, the letter asked if custom blending is considered chemical manufacturing, and thus requires labeling and safety data sheets under HCS 2012.

The letter also asks if agricultural retailers are required to prepare new SDSs for each custom fertilizer blend, can the agricultural retailer use a single generic SDS for multiple blends; and if a generic SDS is not compliant with HCS 2012, what does OSHA recommend as guidance to accommodate custom blending operations?

OSHA’s response provided answers to all three questions:

  1. Custom blending is considered chemical manufacturing, and does require individual labels and SDSs.
  2. A single generic SDS is allowed for complex mixtures with similar hazards. However, the concentration ranges used on a generic SDS must meet the intent to disclose the actual concentration range.
  3. OSHA also gave guidance that it believes including an HCS pictogram on a tanker or rail car is not in conflict with the Department of Transportation regulations.

OSHA Seeks Shareholder Comments

OSHA and Health Canada are continuing their collaborative work to align workplace hazard communication regulations in Canada and the United States. The Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) held initial discussions in the United States in November 2015 and in Canada in December 2015. To further these discussions, Health Canada and OSHA representatives will be hosting a webinar on March 3, 2016 from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (EST) to discuss the draft RCC 2016-17 Work Plan for Workplace Chemicals. The goal is to produce a work plan ready for final release at the end of June 2016.  U.S. OSHA has created a docket [OSHA-2016-0005], titled International/Globally Harmonized System (GHS), to capture both U.S. and Canadian stakeholder comments on the work plan and future similar discussion items. More info on the webinar can be found here

OSHA issues Hazard Classification Guidance

OSHA has recently posted a guidance document on Hazard Classification according to GHS.

This document is designed to help manufacturers and importers of chemicals not only  identify chemical hazards, but also to classify these hazards so that workers and downstream users can be informed about and better understand these hazards as required by OSHA ’s Hazard Communication Standard. This guidance may also be useful to employers who decide to conduct hazard classifications to assure the accuracy and completeness of information provided to them by suppliers. Link

OSHA Issues Enforcement Guidance for Hazard Communication

From National Law Review

OSHA recently issued an internal memorandum outlining enforcement guidance for some of the 2012 Hazard Communication Standard’s (HCS) requirements effective on June 1, 2015—namely, the requirement that chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors must develop and use safety data sheets (SDSs) and labels for their chemical mixtures that align with the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.  The policy provided in the memorandum will not exceed two years.

This memorandum appears to be in response to concerns raised by several trade groups that they needed until June 2017 to comply with the SDS and labeling requirements because they had not received classification and SDS information from upstream suppliers of raw materials in enough time to meet the current deadline.  While it denied the trade groups’ petition to formally modify the compliance date, OSHA indicates in the February 9, 2015 memorandum that it will not issue a citation against manufacturers, importer or distributors if they have exercised “reasonable diligence” and “good faith” to classify and label their chemical mixtures in accordance with the 2012 HCS requirements and if the mixture’s material safety data sheets and labels comply with the 1994 HCS requirements.

Whether the manufacturer, importer, or distributor exercised reasonable diligence and good faith will be determined by the compliance officers and their supervisors, after considering a host of factors designed to ensure that they attempted to meet the June 1, 2015 effective date.

For Manufacturers and Distributors

Specifically, if a manufacturer or importer asserts during an OSHA inspection that they are unable to comply with the SDSs and labeling requirements after the June 1, 2015 compliance date, OSHA instructs the compliance officer to determine if the manufacturer and importer has exercised reasonable diligence and good faith in attempting to obtain 2012-compliant SDSs and classification information from their raw supplies.  In performing this analysis, the compliance officer is instructed to review the overall efforts, attention and actions made by the manufacturer or importer to comply with the 2012 HCS and consider whether they:

  • Developed and documented the process used to gather the necessary classification information from its upstream suppliers and the status of such efforts;

  • Developed and documented efforts to find hazard information from alternative sources (e.g., chemical registries);

  • Provided a written account of continued dialogue with the upstream suppliers, including dated copies of all relevant written communication with its upstream suppliers;

  • Provided a written account of continued dialogue with its distributors, including dated copies of all relevant written communications with its distributors informing them why it has been unable to comply with HCS 2012; and

  • Developed the course of action it will follow to make the necessary changes to the SDSs and labels.

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Canada Publishes New WHMIS to comply with GHS

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), Canada’s national hazard communication standard, is changing to incorporate the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) – an internationally recognized standard for hazard classification and communication.

On February 11, 2015, the Government of Canada published the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR).

The new WHMIS, called “WHMIS 2015”, is based on the new requirements contained the HPR and HPA, as amended in 2014.

The original WHMIS, which remained virtually unchanged since 1988, is not being replaced but rather updated to align as closely as possible with the United States Hazard Communication Standard (2012).

The Government of Canada expects WHMIS 2015 to help strengthen worker health and safety, facilitate trade with the United States, and enhance the competitiveness of Canadian suppliers of workplace chemicals.
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OSHA gives Enforcement Update on HCS 2012

At the Fall meeting of the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication (SCHC) held on September 30, 2014 Mr. Sven Rundman with the Directorate of Enforcement Programs for OSHA gave an Enforcement Overview of the Hazard Communication Standard 2012 (HCS 2012). He began by breaking down the number of OSHA inspections conducted from December 1, 2013 through September 1, 2014. This period marks the beginning of the GHS transition in the US to the new Hazcom standards. During this period, over 2400 HCS inspections were identified by a violation of 1910.1200 (the standard citation). In total there were 4764 total HCS violations which were further characterized as follows:

  • 2522 Serious
  • 75 Repeat
  • 2144 Other
  • 3 – Willful

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OSHA issues compliance guide for Small Entities using Hazardous Chemicals


This guide is intended to help small employers comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). The guide is advisory in nature and informational in content. It is not itself a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations.

You can find the guide here