It was recently announced that Disney was re-releasing the classic animated movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. The commercial started with the dwarfs singing their classic song “Heigh-Ho”. In this tune, the cute characters of Dopey, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy and Doc all sing about coming home from working all day digging in the mine. To remember these characters, watch and listen here.
As the scene starts, I can’t help but notice there are no OSHA workplace labels anywhere. In the new OSHA Hazard Communications Standard 1910.1200 there isn’t much guidance on how to handle workplace labeling. The regulation states “the employer shall ensure that each container of hazardous chemicals in the workplace is labeled, tagged or marked”. The regulation goes on to say use the same information that is found on the shipped containers or use a “Product identifier and words, pictures, symbols, or combination thereof, which provide at least general information regarding the hazards of the chemicals, and which, in conjunction with the other information immediately available to employees under the hazard communication program, will provide employees with the specific information regarding the physical and health hazards of the hazardous chemical.”
Many Employers may feel overwhelmed trying to figure out what to have in a workplace after reading the regulation. Let us help. We offer the GHS Workplace Labels (Orange System).
Orange System GHS Workplace Labels Available Continue Reading…
We all have reminders on our calendars for such things as holidays, birthdays, and appointments. As I looked forward to February for some planning purposes, the date of February 4th popped up as World Cancer Day. Is this a day to celebrate cancer? Does that even make sense when most of us upon hearing that word have some pretty strong negative reactions and emotions? This sent me on a path of fact checking. The purpose of World Cancer Day as established by the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC) is to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. So, this day is similar to Earth Day or World AIDS Day then.
Since I work in the Regulatory World, I thought this would be an opportune time to talk about cancer in the realm of Hazard Communication. For many cancer is part of the acronym CMR which stands for materials that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction. In OSHA HazCom 2012, Appendix A Subsection 6 covers the definition, classification criteria, and cut-off values for carcinogens. Are those pieces of information really enough to classify all of your products? Granted the regulation points out in A.22.214.171.124 some factors to consider, but those exact particular factors can be hard to find in many full length cancer studies.
To make things a bit easier, OSHA has allowed for Continue Reading…
Clarification provided by OSHA’s Inspection Procedure, Directive CPL 02-02-079 in July 2015, is filtering through the regulated community and causing some concern.
The directive essentially confirms that HazCom 2012 labeling applies to “… a tank truck, rail car or similar vehicle…” comprising the container for a hazardous chemical when it is not immediately unloaded at the destination.
Hazard Communication is Key
The intent is presumably to ensure that workers potentially exposed to hazardous chemicals will be able to identify the risks, particularly if they are not familiar with DOT markings – or if the substance is a hazardous chemical under OSHA, despite not being a hazardous material under DOT.
The wording of 29 CFR1910.1200(c) is light on definitions of “container” (“…storage tank or the like that contains a hazardous chemical…”); and “shipped container” in (f)(1) et al is not actually defined in the regulation itself.
However, “Shipped Container” is defined in part X.C.21 of the CPL directive, i.e. “… means any container leaving the workplace, whether through normal shipping routes or physically handed to another person.”
Consequently OSHA expects that rail or highway tankers as “shipped containers” will, in addition to 49 CFR – required safety marks, include the HazCom 2012 “… labeling information … either posted on the outside of the vehicle or attached to the accompanying shipping papers …”
Sending a copy separately from the vehicle is not allowed.
Custom Tank Labels Continue Reading…
Many good jokes have a common setup to them. That setup involves a unique group of individuals and some sort of humorous interaction that ends with a punchline. So here is my setup for this blog. What do a famous scientist, an award-winning actress/comedian and a well-known businessman have in common? Let’s look at a quote from each of them.
- From Werner Heisenberg, the scientist, and his book Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science:
- “Whenever we proceed from the known into the unknown we may hope to understand, but we may have to learn at the same time a new meaning of the word ‘understanding’.”
- From Gilda Radner, the actress/comedian:
- “Life is about not knowing, having to change and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”
- From Warren Buffet, the businessman:
- “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.”
Now, I don’t have the best punchline but there is a common thread in each of these. It is about the unknown.
As authors of Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and labels, when researching ingredients there are times when there are no acute toxicity data in the literature on an ingredient. When this happens, alarm bells should ring. There is a very specific thing that has to happen when ingredients have unknown acute toxicity. When that ingredient is a part of an untested mixture at a relevant concentration, Continue Reading…
Right to know regulations are great for employees. They help educate the employees to understand all of the hazards they may be exposed to. OSHA’s philosophy behind their hazard communication standard is based around the “right to know” concept. One key to the system is the training of employees to not only know about a hazard, but to understand the hazard. Some states have implemented individual right to know requirements to provide information to workers above and beyond the federal level.
One state in particular has gone way beyond and branched the right to know into the consumer sector. Yes, I’m talking about California and their Prop 65 legislation. According to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) website (click here), Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, was enacted as a ballot initiative in November 1986. The proposition was intended to protect California citizens and the State’s drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals.
The list of chemicals covered by Prop 65 can be found on OEHHA’s website (click here). Note that they specify coverage to citizens, not just workers. This means that Prop 65 applies everywhere in California, not just workplaces where employees are trained to understand what the information really means. Continue Reading…
Where’s the Beef?
A better question to ask than the one posed in the title is “Where’s the beef?” Many will remember this 1980’s catchphrase uttered by Clara Peller in an advertisement for the fast food chain Wendy’s. The purpose of this advertisement was to differentiate between the big name sandwiches provided by McDonald’s and Burger King and Wendy’s own Single. The difference was in the size of the bun used by the competitors and the large beef patty used at Wendy’s. (Click here for the Wendy’s Commercial)
For those in the hazard communication industry, the question applies because of the June 1st deadline. This deadline was for all safety data sheets (SDS) and labels to be updated under the new OSHA HazCom2012 format. It is now after July 1st and many downstream users are asking “Where are the updated SDS and labels” much like in the Wendy’s commercial. Granted some companies made the deadline and are supplying the new versions of the documents. Unfortunately, there are a great many that have not.
So, are things really different?
Many on the business side of manufacturers, importers and distributors, the answer will likely be, “not much”. The business is still manufacturing product, importing goods and distributing items. That process has not truly changed. From a Regulatory or Compliance point of view the answer to that is “yes”. If your company has not Continue Reading…
The Next Revolutionary War?
For many, this transition period to OSHA HazCom 2012 from the Hazard Communication Standard of 1994 can best be summarized by Thomas Paine’s famous quote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” While it was used in the pamphlet The American Crisis to deliver the ideas of the Revolution to the people of early America, there are many in the throes of classifying chemicals, substances and mixtures that feel this quote applies to daily life.
There is pressure on SDS authors, either internally or externally, to “get it right”. How can we be sure our classification is accurate? Did we cover all the hazards? Did we use the correct data? Should we check other sources? These last two questions can be the most difficult to answer.
To be a “good” SDS writer, never stop at just one source of data. Since OSHA chose not to use the exact language out of GHS Revision 3 and only selected certain building blocks when developing HazCom2012, care should be taken when utilizing classifications from other world areas. One has to remember that many other world areas did the same thing. Using classifications derived under another country’s system could lead to some over-classification, or under, depending on which country’s system is used.
A prime example of this would be Toluene. A straightforward colorless, insoluble, liquid chemical used mostly as a solvent, Continue Reading…
Sometimes, regulations don’t give us all the answers we need. For example, many people are confused about the labelling requirements found in the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) of Part 1910.1200 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). This section tells us that we must label all “shipped containers” that contain hazardous substances destined for workplace use. But what exactly is the “shipped container,” when you have inner containers inside an outer one?
The simplest form of “shipped container” is a single packaging. This is a packaging such as a drum or bag, with no inner containers. Such a packaging must be labeled according to the HCS, if the product is hazardous and is intended for a U.S. workplace. If the product is also regulated as a hazardous material for transport according to the Department of Transportation (DOT), then we must also display DOT labels and marks as required by 49 CFR.
However, it gets murkier when we look at combination packagings. These packagings consist of an outer packaging as well as one or more inner packagings. In a transportation sense, both the inner and outer packagings are “shipped.” But are they “shipped containers”?
The answer to this question isn’t found directly in the HCS. Instead, OSHA has issued interpretations that provide guidance here and here. (Note that one of these interpretations was issued long before the current rules, known as Hazcom Continue Reading…
As of now we should all know or have at least heard that OSHA adopted the hazardous chemical labeling requirements in the latest revision of the Hazard Communication Standard. By aligning with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals or GHS, OSHA helps ensure uniformity in the labeling of chemicals. These updates will provide workers with better information on safe handling and usage of hazardous chemicals. Therefore, providing a systematic approach for avoidance and exposures to hazardous chemicals, reducing injuries and illness through worker awareness.
The upcoming June 1, 2015 effective date, manufacturers, importers and distributors can maintain compliance with the requirements of HazCom 1994 or the revised standard. However, manufacturers, importers, and distributors may start using the new labeling system in the revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) before the June 1, 2015 effective date. Hazardous chemicals shipped after June 1, 2015, are required to be labeled with the identified elements including pictograms, signal words, hazard statements and precautionary statements. Distributors have until December 1, 2015 to ship containers labeled by manufacturers or importers in compliance with the HazCom 1994, after which it is required to comply with the HazCom 2012.
According to the revised standard the required information regarding chemical hazards must be communicated on labels using visual cues for awareness to the users. Labels, defined in the HCS, are Continue Reading…
Nola Murphy’s Story
It was in a soft-drink bottle. It looked like lemonade. But 73-year-old Nola Murphy discovered, after pouring herself a glass, that it wasn’t. In fact, it was a toxic mould-remover that a cleaner had left sitting on a restaurant bar. The cleaner had poured the product from a larger container into the soft drink bottle for easier handling.
Mrs. Murphy was lucky – she survived the experience, although she required emergency hospital treatment. But her story, given in an article in the New Zealand Medical Journal, shows how putting hazardous chemicals in unlabeled containers can be a recipe for disaster. (More: The New Zealand Herald)
Many countries, including the United States and Canada, require hazardous chemicals sold to the workplace to be labeled by the supplier. Regulations such as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and Canada’s WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System), set out the basic requirements for such labels (called “supplier labels” under WHMIS, and “labels for shipped containers” by OSHA). But as Mrs. Murphy’s experience shows, many hazardous chemicals still end up in unlabeled containers. They may be poured (“decanted”) from larger containers for convenience. The original supplier label may have been damaged or removed. Or two or more chemicals in separate containers may be mixed together to make a new product. No matter how it happens, unlabeled chemicals create a Continue Reading…