A Scientist, an Actor, a Businessman, and Unknown Toxicity

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…

OSHA Hazard Communication Website Gets a Facelift

As I get older and more wrinkles, crow’s feet and age spots appear on my face, I consider some sort of plastic surgery like a facelift. According to the dictionary, a facelift is a procedure carried out to improve the appearance of someone or something.  A little nip and tuck, tightening and smoothing could go a long way in removing some of my signs of aging. So, how does my desire to look younger have anything to do with OSHA? To put it simply, OSHA’s website on Hazard Communication got a facelift.

US Department of Labor - OSHA Hazard Communication Website Screenshot
Click to enlarge

OSHA announced the update to the Hazard Communication website in the November 2nd QuickTakes newsletter under the Educational Resources section. To see the full newsletter, click here.

The new look actually makes the site easier to maneuver through as there are now drop-down tabs that can be used for faster searching for needed information. A quick review of each tab is as follows:

  • Safety Data Sheets: This tab includes the Safety Data Sheets QuikCard™ in both HTML and PDF formats along with the OSHA SDS Brief regarding Safety Data Sheets that incorporates Appendix D of the HazCom2012 regulation.
  • Labeling: On this tab the setup is very similar to that of the Safety Data Sheets. An additional link is to a QuickCard™ of a comparison between NFPA and OSHA labels.
  • Pictograms: Here again are the same features as the Continue Reading…
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ for Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

Why did you use an exact concentration?

Why was an exact concentration used? Health Canada eliminated the allowable ranges (previously allowed with WHMIS 1988) and went to exact concentrations. The only exception is if there is a batch variation. The other option is the customer can apply for an exemption. The blog found here http://www.thecompliancecenter.com/blog/2015/08/10/strictly-confidential-not-sds-ingredient-disclosure-cbi/ provides addition information.

Why is my product a class 9 in Canada when it was not previously?

On December 31, 2014 Transport Canada issued an amendment to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (SOR/2014-306). Details on this amendment can be found here http://www.thecompliancecenter.com/blog/2015/01/05/new-year-new-tdg-amendment/ . Essentially, Transport Canada brought in the criteria for classifying marine pollutants that follows the IMDG code. Based on the available aquatic data for fish, invertebrate and algae, the substance or product is given a classification. If that classification falls into Acute Category 1 or Chronic Category 1 or 2, it is regulated for transport and gets the shipping description Environmentally hazardous substance (solids or liquids), n.o.s. The USA still leaves this as an optional classification (you can still use the list or you can harmonize).

WHMIS 2015
WHMIS 2015 – Administrative Aspects

Despite the publicity and awareness campaigns around the labels, SDS and classification aspects of WHMIS 2015, there are a few administrative areas that shouldn’t be overlooked.

These elements of the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and Regulations (HPR) are not related to GHS, but deal with aspects that are important to those with Supplier obligations.

Some of these have become fairly common knowledge (e.g. Canadian supplier, including same supplier on label/SDS, etc.); others have not been widely discussed.

Document Creation/Retention – HPA 14.3

Every Supplier selling (more on this later) or importing a hazardous product for use, handling or storage in a Canadian work place must maintain a “true copy” of both the SDS and label relating to the product at the time of import or sale.

Note the phrase “true copy” does not include the word “certified”- so presumably they don’t need to be notarized – but I’ll leave that for the lawyers in the audience to comment on.

This section also requires the Supplier to create and maintain documented records of the:

  • Source (name/address, date and quantity) of the hazardous product obtained from others (e.g. manufacturers);
  • location and monthly quantities of sales (“transfer of ownership or possession) of the hazardous product

The Act requires that all of the documents referenced above be kept for 6 years following the end of the year they relate to- unless the Minister prescribes a different period.

Also Continue Reading…

OSHA HazCom 2012
Time Requirements Under OSHA HazCom 2012

As a new order for classifications and label text is begun, the song “Time Is On My Side” by The Rolling Stones comes to my mind. Take a listen here to remind yourself of the rhythm and lyrics. I and many other SDS and Label authors approach each new request with optimism and the hope that a perfect world exists. Believing all of the information needed is supplied by the client, the data needed is readily available and the time needed for work is plentiful.

For any given order there could be multiple products and each product requires an SDS and Label. Each of the products is probably a mixture. In some cases the products are actually mixtures made up of other mixtures. Some of the products have trade secret claims. Taken together, this means we authors start to question what Mick Jagger is saying. Is time really on my side?

Now, clients are amazing. Any information needed requires a simple email or phone call. If they have it, then within a short period of time it is provided.

Things start to fall apart though when information just is not there. Many companies are still struggling with receiving SDS and Labels that are compliant with HazCom 2012 from their manufacturers and suppliers. When this happens, I am tasked with finding information on my own. This finding of information is the Continue Reading…

Strictly Confidential (NOT) – SDS Ingredient Disclosure & CBI

The program to harmonize the Canadian WHMIS 2015 regulations and the US HCS2012 extends beyond adopting elements of the UN GHS. Unfortunately not all the differences can be removed, but the effort has led to some changes of which importers and suppliers need to be aware. Since the majority of the differences affect Canadian suppliers and importers (with the implications flowing to US suppliers to Canada), Health Canada has prepared a Guidance document, recently shared with CACD (Canadian Association of Chemical Distributers), on “Disclosure of Ingredient Concentrations and Concentration Ranges on Safety Data Sheets.” The document, dated July 31, 2015, is expected to be available for general distribution soon.

Similar But Different

The GUIDANCE summarizes the WHMIS 2015 requirements and contrasts them with both the previous WHMIS 1988 and current US HCS2012 regulations.

In a nutshell, WHMIS-compliant SDS must disclose “true” – i.e. actual ranges of health-hazard ingredients and cannot optionally use wide ranges as a work-around to avoid the cost/administrative burden of the formal application, under the Hazardous Material Information Review Act/Regulations (HMIRA), for approval to mask trade secrets.

So, in effect, the WHMIS 1988 broad ranges can no longer be used at the Supplier’s discretion (e.g. an ingredient present at 12.5% +/- 0.5% could previously, under WHMIS 1988, have been listed on the msds as “7- 13%;” or as “10-30%”).

Under WHMIS 2015, an SDS must disclose the ingredient Continue Reading…

OSHA HazCom 2012
OSHA HazCom 2012 – One Month after the Deadline: What’s Different?

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…

OSHA Update
I’m late! I’m late! For a Very Important Date

The Time Has Come!

I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!” No truer words are spoken than by the White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll’s story and the 1951 Disney movie “Alice in Wonderland”. The rapidly approaching deadline of June 1, 2015 will be here sooner than people think, given it is currently the beginning of March. It is on this date that “everyone” must be in compliance with all modified provisions of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) or what is more affectionately known as HazCom2012. What has everyone in “White Rabbit Mode” is the lack of classifications or Safety Data Sheets (SDS) from suppliers that would enable classifications of everyone’s in-house products.

Upon the release of the new standard back in 2012 it was stated that all chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers must be in compliance with the new standard no later than June 1, 2015.  For many, panic struck upon the realization that the needed information for classifications would not be available since everyone would be on the same time schedule. This feeling of panic can be likened to meeting having tea with the Mad Hatter.

OSHA’s Enforcement Guidance

On February 9, 2015, OSHA released a memorandum on the topic of Enforcement Guidance for the upcoming June 1st deadline. In this memo, there is a chance for some breathing room and relief. The memo, which can be read here, Continue Reading…

GHS Revision 6 is Coming!


David Bowie’s 1971 album “Hunky Dory” included the song “Changes” which was released in January 1972. While being recognized as one of Bowie’s most well-known songs, it never made it in into the “Top 40”. One of the lyrics from that song is

“Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes / (Turn and face the strain) Ch-ch-Changes”.

Those lyrics are most appropriate given the release of the UN ECE Secretariat’s publication of the changes to the 5th Revised edition, which will lead to the creation of Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) Sixth Revised Edition.

Here is the link to published changes document.

Six of the changes coming to Revision 6 are as follows:

  1. Desensitized Explosives. A new hazard class for Revision 6 which carries the definition of “solid or liquid explosive substances or mixtures which are phlegmatized to suppress their explosive properties in such a manner that they do not mass explode and do not burn too rapidly and therefore may be exempted from the hazard class “Explosives” (see Chapter 2.1; see also Note 2 to paragraph”  This new class will have four categories and include its own label elements, H phrases and P phrases.
  2. Pyrophoric Gases. Chapter 2.2 entitled “Flammable Gases (Including Chemically Unstable Gases) is changing to “Flammable Gases”. While the title change is not necessarily newsworthy, the inclusion of the hazard class pyrophoric gases” is. This hazard class now Continue Reading…
Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
Looney Tunes, “Of Mice and Men,” and Safety Data Sheets

Which way do I go, George?

John Steinbeck’s novella “Of Mice and Men” is often a required reading for many school children. Though published in 1937 about a story of migrant workers in the Great Depression, it has many themes that are still powerful today. What many don’t know is that one of Steinbeck’s characters from this story is parodied in a classic Looney Tunes cartoon.

Of Fox and Hounds

In this cartoon, Willoughby the dog is fooled by George the fox. Willoughby is voiced by Tex Avery, while George’s voice is done by Mel Blanc.

Now what does this have to do with Safety Data Sheets or SDS? Often when tasked with writing a SDS one can feel like poor Willoughby. All of the information is available, but which way do you go. Which way do you go?

ICC Compliance Center can help and it won’t be in the way of George in the cartoon. We offer five different SDS Services.

But how do I choose which is right for me?

  1. SDS Creation: The process is simple. Send us a basic product information sheet, the raw materials SDS documents, and the countries involved and we can write an SDS for you that meets the requirements of OSHA HazCom 2012, WHMIS, European REACH, or European CLP. We even offer to sign a non-disclosure agreement to keep your product information private.
  2. SDS Reformats and Revisions: Most companies already Continue Reading…