OSHA Publishes Interim Enforcement Guidance for Hazard Communication 2012

Over two weeks ago, the safety data sheet and labelling requirements under OSHA’s Hazard Communications Standard (HCS 2012) (29 CFR 1910.1200) went into effect. Manufacturers, importers and employers must provide information about chemical hazards on Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and labels. They also must utilize GHS requirements to alert the user for immediate and consistent recognition of hazards. Distributors have an extended deadline in which they may ship products with old labels until December 1, 2015.

On May 29, 2015, OSHA published an Interim Enforcement Guidance for HCS 2012. This followed related guidance that was published on February 9, 2015. This guidance described OSHA’s position on enforcing HCS 2012. It particularly offered the position when manufacturers, importers and distributors do not received classification and SDS information from its upstream suppliers. The Interim Enforcement Guidance enforces until the revised HCS 2012 directive releases, which is expected “shortly after June 1, 2015.” Once the new directive emerges, it will cancel both of the guidance documents.

Key Points of the Interim Enforcement Guidance

  • Clarification of “Reasonable Diligence” and “Good Faith Efforts”
  • Manufacturers and importers provide documentation of their attempts to obtain classification information and SDSs from upstream suppliers; find hazard information from alternative sources; and classify the data themselves.
  • Demonstrate through Documentation
  • Manufacturers and importers provide dated copies of both oral and written communications directly from the upstream supplier. In addition, manufacturers and importers develop a course of action to follow once the information becomes available.
  • Labeling
  • If an upstream supplier does not distribute classification information to manufacturers or importers,  the importers use the HCS 1994 label under “certain limited circumstances.” However, they should document demonstration of reasonable diligence and good faith efforts to maintain compliance. Once they receive information, a six-month period to update to HCS-2012 labels will ensue.
  • Repackaging/Blending
  • Businesses that repackage, blend or mix hazardous chemicals are considered manufacturers under HCS. Labeling guidance as stated in the Interim Enforcement Guidance for manufacturers and importers applies to them.
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Source: 1 Galassi, T. Interim Enforcement Guidance for Hazard Communication 2012 (HCS 2012) June 1, 2015 Enforcement Date [Memorandum]. Washington, DC: Occupational Safety & Health Administration.