Chemical manufacturers, importers, product formulators and employers are not in danger of being cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, if they can’t cope with the agency’s revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) by the June 1, 2015, deadline to develop hazard communication program materials for chemical mixtures.
After June 1, chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors are obliged to ship out all their chemicals with new labels and Safety Data Sheets according to the provisions in the United Nations’ updated Hazard Communication Standard, also known as Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). As the June 1 compliance date is coming soon, many manufacturers have already implemented the new standard and begun sending out products with compliant labels and SDSs. However, there are manufacturers and importers, who haven’t be able to receive classifications and SDS information from upstream suppliers of raw materials.
For these special cases in classifying mixtures, OSHA enforced a memorandum in February 24 which describes the Agency’s position on the HCS June 1, 2015 deadline. According to it, chemical manufacturers and importers that have exercised reasonable diligence and good faith in attempting to obtain HCS 2012-compliant SDSs and classification information provided on each SDS of the individual ingredients or components from its upstream raw material supplier, but they failed, they will not be cited as long as the mixture’s material safety data sheet (MSDS) and label comply with HCS 1994.
Distributors with pallets of existing stock of individual containers with HCS 1994-compliant labels on them do not need to remove the old label from each individual container and replace it with a new HCS 2012-compliant label until the effective date in December 1, 2015. After that date distributors are obliged to ship chemical containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer with HCS 2012-compliant labels.
In case where a distributor’s supplier has not been able to fulfill the June 1, 2015 compliance date despite reasonable diligence and good faith efforts, the distributor has the right to continue to ship containers with HCS 1994-compliant labels. However, the distributor has to report its communication to the supplier in order to determine why there was no compliance with HCS 2012. Finally, a CSHO will define, based on each case, whether a distributor exercised reasonable diligence and good faith to be in compliance with the December 1, 2015 effective date.
Many employers may have not received yet updated SDSs or labels for some of the hazardous chemicals they use in their businesses. OSHA will not issue a citation to them. However, when they obtain the HCS 2012-compliant safety data sheets, they have to maintain in the workplace copies for each hazardous chemical and make sure that all employees can have immediate access during each work shift in their workplace. As for the workplace labeling, when employers acquire HCS 2012-compliant labels, they have to maintain them on the chemical containers or follow the workplace labeling requirements. In other words, they must confirm that each container of hazardous chemicals in the workplace is labeled, tagged or marked with warning signs, placards, process sheets, batch tickets and operating procedures.