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OSHA proposal to update hazcom standard under White House review

GHS Labels

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Washington — An update to OSHA’s standard on hazard communication is undergoing a final review, according to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs website.

The final rule was sent to OIRA on Oct. 11. It’s unknown how long the office will take to complete the review – one of the final steps in the regulatory process.

OSHA is seeking to align the hazcom standard (1910.1200) to the seventh revision of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, also known as GHS. The current standard is linked to the third revision of GHS, an update that occurred in 2012. 

An OSHA slideshow from January 2021 details the agency’s proposed changes, which include:

  • Additional clarification of existing regulatory requirements.
  • Incorporating new hazard classes and categories.
  • Improving and streamlining precautionary statements.
  • Increased alignment with other countries, helping facilitate international trade.

Some of the proposed changes cover Appendices A-D. Appendix A would have revised health hazard definitions, including updated chapters on skin corrosion/irritation and serious eye damage/eye irritation.

OSHA notes that, in Appendix B, the flammable gases category 1 “was extremely broad” and essentially covered all flammable gases. In some instances, that led to employers choosing chemicals with higher risks.

Pyrophoric and unstable gases would be placed under category 1A, under the final rule. Appendix B also is expected to include a new chapter on desensitized explosives and “better differentiation between aerosols and gases under pressure.”

In the final rule, Appendix C could contain updated guidance and precautionary statement clarifications on aerosols, desensitized explosives and flammable gases.

Changes to two sections in Appendix D, on Safety Data Sheets, are proposed. Section 9 (physical and chemical properties) would include particle size, and Section 11 would include interactive effects and the use of “SAR/QSAR/read across.”

The final rule may also potentially fix issues with release for shipment, small packages labeling and SDS preparation.

“OSHA expects the HCS update will increase worker protections and reduce the incidence of chemical-related occupational illnesses and injuries by further improving the information on the labels and Safety Data Sheets for hazardous chemicals,” the agency stated when it issued the proposed rule in February 2021. “Proposed modifications will also address issues since implementation of the 2012 standard and improve alignment with other federal agencies and Canada.”

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