OSHA Proposes New HazCom Updates | February 08, 2021

OSHA proposes new changes in the Hazard Communication Standard including relaxing small container labeling requirements and adding another label field among other changes.

On Friday February 5, 2021 OSHA announced proposed changes to the Hazard Communication standard 1910.1200 to:

  • Better align with revision 7 of the Global Harmonization Standard, published in 2017
  • Cooperating with international trade partners such as Canada and
  • Improving the implementation of the HCS by providing better definitions, classification and implementation structures such as for labeling

OSHA is soliciting comments from interested and affected parties before adopting the changes. The changes include updated requirements for small container labeling, reclassification of certain substances and a new required field for labels. It also further defines the applicability of the phrase “trade secret” and what is and is not allowed to be reported on the label.

There are many details in the complete 486 page document but some of the highlights include:

1) A new field is being required on labels. “Date released for shipment”. The actual text states “that the chemical manufacturer, importer, or distributor ensure labels on shipped containers bear the date the chemical is released for shipment”.

2) Existing chemicals in inventory with labels do not need to be changed (in most cases) however a new label must be sent with the shipment.

3) Additional guidance on the classification of substances will mainly impact the originators of the safety data sheet. OSHA realizes that there is a real cost to the authors of SDS’s and estimates that the time needed to reclassify and re-author will take between 3 – 7 hours per document.

4) For those shipping hazardous chemicals, if a pictogram required by the D.O.T. appears on the label for a shipped container, the HCS pictogram for the same hazard may also be provided. However, it is not required and for bulk shipment. The label may be on the container or on the shipping documents in certain conditions.

5) Chemicals that have been released for shipment and are awaiting future distribution need not be relabeled; however, the chemical manufacturer or importer must provide the updated label for each individual container with each shipment.

6) Additional training will be required for employees to become familiar with the updates to SDSs and labels for impacted aerosols, desensitized explosives, and flammable gases.

7) More options for trade secret concentrations values in the SDS.

8) Prioritization of certain precautionary statements related to medical response.

9) Employers have struggled with the labeling requirements especially for small containers. OSHA is addressing this according to the size of container (volume) and has new requirements for different sizes:

For a container less than or equal to 100 ml capacity, the chemical manufacturer, importer, or distributor must include, at a minimum, the following information on the label of the container:

  • Product identifier
  • Pictogram(s)
  • Signal word
  • Chemical manufacturer’s name and phone number
  • A statement that the full label information for the hazardous chemical is provided on the immediate outer package

For a container less than or equal to 3 ml capacity, no label is required, but the container must bear, at a minimum, the product identifier. In particular, under proposed paragraph (f)(12)(iii), “only a product identifier would be required on the immediate outer package of very small containers (3 ml or less) where the manufacturer, importer, or distributor can demonstrate that a label would interfere with the normal use of the container and that it is not feasible to use pullout labels, fold-back labels, or tags containing the full label information.”

This is only a proposed rule. It will not become effective until 60 days after being published in the Federal Register. OSHA is soliciting comments from affected industries before finalizing the rule.

M3V Data Management is a software development firm staffed by Ph.D’s in Chemistry, P.E.’s (Environmental), CHMM’s and scientists, all of whom came from a regulatory or industrial Environmental Health and Safety background. M3V provides web based software to generate secondary container labels, manage and distribute safety data sheets to employees and track EH&S tasks and requirements.