Countdown to Compliance – OSHA Enforcement Guidance Provides Clarification Regarding Chemical Mixtures

In the past, we blogged that industry and trade associations have filed petitions requesting OSHA extend the deadline for product formulators, yielding clarification by the OSHA Enforcement Guidance that it would use enforcement discretion for manufacturers and importers who demonstrate they have conducted “reasonable diligence” and made “good faith” efforts to meet the June 1, 2015 compliance deadline. In a recent memo to regional administrators, OSHA provided enforcement guidance regarding the Hazard Communication Standard’s (HCS) June 1, 2015 deadline.

One of the key points made in the enforcement guideline is that OSHA will not be extending the June 1 deadline. Manufacturers and importers should still meet the deadline, and distributors have until December 1, 2015 to transition to the new HazCom 2012 standard.

The enforcement guideline, however, provides compliance safety and health officers (CSHO) a resource to help determine whether or not an organization should be cited for not meeting the deadline – particularly in the case of product formulators. The memo states, “CSHOs shall not cite a manufacturer or importer for failing to meet the June 1, 2015 deadline to have updated labels under 29 CFR 1910.1200(f)(1), or updated SDSs under paragraph (g)(1), if the chemical manufacturer or importer exercised reasonable diligence and good faith in attempting to obtain HCS 2012-compliant SDSs and classification information from upstream raw material supplier(s).”1

OSHA outlines the qualifications of meeting “reasonable diligence” and “good faith efforts” within the memo. This includes demonstrating attempt(s) to obtain “the necessary SDSs through both oral and written communication directly with the upstream supplier.” In addition, manufacturers or importers develop and document a process to gather the needed information. They also provide dated copies of all relevant information.

In contrast, if a supplier cannot demonstrate action to obtain HCS 2012 SDSs and labels, through documentation, OSHA can cite for not meeting the compliance standards.  Additionally, the guidance states that OSHA will consider an enforcement action against the upstream raw material supplier  if a HCS 2012- compliant SDS or label available is not available to downstream manufacturers or product formulators of mixtures by June 1, 2015.

How does this impact SDSs and labeling for mixtures?

  • Once a manufacturer or importer receives all of the hazard information for the mixture ingredients, it has six months from the date it received all of the hazard information for the ingredients in the mixture to provide an SDS to downstream distributors or employers.
  • HCS-2012 compliant labels are provided six months from the date it receives all of the hazard information. Containers shipped after the six month time period are labeled with an HCS 2012-compliant label.
  • Distributors are to meet the December 1, 2015 deadline to transition to HCS 2012; however, if impacted by the delay beyond their control, OSHA considers on a case-by-case basis whether or not the distributor exercised “reasonable diligence” and “good faith” efforts to meet compliance.

1 Galassi, T. Enforcement Guidance for the Hazard Communication Standard’s (HCS) June 1, 2015 Effective Date[Memorandum]. Washington, DC: Occupational Safety & Health Administration.