What is a Competent Person (OSHA defined)?

From the National Safety Council

When a boss calls an employee a “competent person,” it is not necessarily a compliment – it is a legal obligation.

A competent person is an employee who is able to recognize hazards associated with a particular task, and has the ability to mitigate those hazards. Many OSHA construction standards require someone onsite – such as a foreman, supervisor or other employee – to be designated as a competent person.

However, OSHA does not have a specific standard regarding a competent person, which has led to some confusion.  Read the article here

Potentially Toxic Magnetic Nanoparticles found in Human Brains

From Newsweek

Researchers have discovered significant quantities of potentially toxic magnetic nanoparticles in human brains, sparking fears they could lead to brain diseases.

The particles, made of a form of iron called magnetite, are produced during combustion and can reach high levels in polluted areas. A study published Sep. 5 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests these pollutants can make their way into the brain when inhaled, either through the lungs or more likely directly through the olfactory bulb, where smell is processed.

In the paper, scientists examined the brains of people who lived in Mexico City and Manchester, England, and who were subject to high levels of particulate pollution during their lives. Some of the people also had Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and researchers are concerned these particles may increase the risk for such brain diseases, says Barbara Maher, a scientist at the University of Lancaster, and the study’s first author.

PHMSA to align US Hazmat Rules to International Standards

On August 24, 2016, the PHMSA issued the following brief:

Today, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is seeking comment on proposed revisions to the U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations to maintain alignment with international standards. The changes – which include revisions to proper shipping names, hazard classes, packing groups, special provisions, packaging authorizations, air transport quantity limitations, and vessel stowage requirements – facilitate the safe transport of hazardous materials in international commerce. The proposed rule is based on recent revisions to the United Nations Model Regulations, International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, and the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. The U.N. Model Regulations are amended and updated biennially. Comments must be received on or before 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The proposed rulemaking has been transmitted to the Federal Register for publication. An actual date of publication will be determined by the Federal Register, but a preview of the rulemaking proposal transmitted by PHMSA is available on the agency’s website. For more information on the U.S. DOT’s efforts to improve hazardous materials safety and awareness, including details about the proposed rule, visit the PHMSA website at www.phmsa.dot.gov. Contact for media: Artealia Gilliard (202)366-4831.

Today, the Federal Register has been published and can be found here

OSHA and Health Canada plan alignment of label/classification

OSHA, Health Canada update plan to align labelling and classification requirements for hazardous workplace chemicals

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Health Canada, through the Regulatory Cooperation Council, have jointly developed a 2016-2017 Workplace Chemicals Work Plan. The purpose of the work plan is to ensure that current and future requirements for classifying and communicating the hazards of workplace chemicals will be acceptable in the United States and Canada without reducing worker safety.

The work plan involves activities that support:

  • Developing materials to assist stakeholders with implementing the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling (GHS) and understanding the interpretation of technical issues and requirements in Canada and the U.S.;
  • Coordinating opinions on issues that arise from international discussions on the GHS; and
  • Maintaining alignment between the U.S. and Canadian requirements for implementing the GHS when revisions are made.

“This plan is part of ongoing efforts between OSHA and Health Canada to reduce regulatory barriers between U.S. and Canadian systems responsible for chemical safety and provide concise information to protect workers exposed to hazardous chemicals,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.

OSHA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Canada’s Department of Health in 2013. The goal of the MOU is to devise a system, accepted by both countries, that allows the use of one label and one safety data sheet.

OSHA aligned its Hazard Communication Standard with the GHS in March 2012 to provide a common, understandable approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Web page includes links to the standard, frequently asked questions and guidance materials.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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