First, Haz Com Changes Coming Soon: OSHA is planning to submit a proposed rule to update its Hazard Communication Standard to align it with version 7 of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. GHS is updated every two years, the current version update was in February 2017. OSHA’s HazCom Standard is currently linked to GHS version 3.

Here is a summary of several changes to be included based on GHS rev 7:

  • The definitions of “Skin corrosion”, “Skin irritation”, “Serious eye damage”, “Eye irritation”, “Dermal corrosion” , “Dermal irritation”, “Respiratory sensitizer”, “Specific target organ toxicity”, “Reproductive toxicity”, “Carcinogenicity” are slightly updated.
  • The criteria for the categorization of flammable gases will be updated. Both pyrophoric gases and chemically unstable gases will also meet the classification criteria of flammable gases category 1A. Plus hazard statements will be assigned to pyrophoric gases and chemically unstable gases category 1A/1B.
  • A new precautionary statementP503 Refer to manufacturer/supplier/… for information on disposal/recovery/recycling will be added for some explosives. Other precautionary statements are rationalized in Annex 3.
  • A new example of fold-out labels for small containers is to be added. It shows what information needs to appear on the front page and inside pages.

The electronic version of GHS revision 7 is available by download.

Second, Final Rule on Silica: OSHA is also preparing for oral arguments in a consolidated lawsuit against the respirable crystalline silica final rule.

Enforcement of the rule goes into effect for general industry beginning June 23, 2018 (The Construction crystalline silica rule went into effect in September).

OSHA’s current permissible exposure limits (PELs) for crystalline silica were adopted in 1971 and have not been updated since that time. OSHA stated that the levels do not adequately protect workers; they are outdated, inconsistent and hard to understand. The current PEL is based on research is from the 1960’s and earlier. Based on current research, the U.S. National Toxicology Program, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have all identified respirable crystalline silica as a human carcinogen.

Six trade associations have collaborated on a letter sent to Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta encouraging him to reopen the rulemaking process for OSHA’s final rule on exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

The associations summarized that failing to change the rule would result in a severe economic impact including the closing of small and mid-sized foundries in many states across the U.S., resulting in the loss of jobs.

The decision on the lawsuit likely won’t come for months. Here are two OSHA Fact Sheets: Construction and General Industry.