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OSHA Working on Hazard Comms Guides, Compliance Directive

OSHAThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s enforcement division is developing a compliance directive on the agency’s hazard communication standard.

The directive will instruct inspectors on how to enforce the standard.

OSHA’s top hazard communication official, Maureen Ruskin, told Bloomberg BNA she couldn’t estimate when the directive would be finished because it is the enforcement division’s responsibility.

OSHA is also developing three guidance documents to help employers comply with the hazard communication standard, which it finalized in March 2012.

These will include a guidebook on hazard classification, due in a few months, and another guide tailored for small- and medium-sized businesses, which could be ready in days.

OSHA designed the hazard communication regulations to comply with the UN Globally Harmonized System. Most of the regulations take effect in June 2015.

Under the standard, chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import and must provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category, according to an online OSHA factsheet.

Employers were required to train all workers on the new label elements and safety data sheet format last December 1.

In October, OSHA launched two web resources that aim to safeguard workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals. OSHA created a toolkit, called Transitioning to Safer Chemicals, to identify safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous ones. OSHA also developed the Annotated Permissible Exposure Limits, or annotated PEL tables, to enable employers to voluntarily adopt newer, more protective workplace exposure limits.

Takeaway: OSHA is developing a compliance directive on its hazard communication standard, and also creating guidebooks for businesses.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

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