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December 1st, 2013 Training Requirements

New Safety Training Required by December 1

By Mel Davis,  Cal/OSHA Adviser; CalChamber Labor Law Helpline

Employers should be aware of a regulatory change in California that will create a new training requirement.

The change will have an impact on employers involved in the manufacturing and shipping of industrial chemicals and on employees who handle and distribute packaged materials.

Employees must received training on new labels and safety data sheets by December 1, 2013.

Earlier this year, Cal/OSHA’s Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board adopted revised federal hazard communication regulations.

Those revised federal regulations came from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which published them in the Federal Register on March 26, 2012.

The purpose for the revision was international, according to OSHA. With expanding international markets, the international community determined that uniform regulations are necessary to ensure improvement of quality and consistency of information provided to employers and employees regarding chemical hazards and associated protective measures.

As required by law, California has six months from the date the federal regulations were published in the Federal Register to adopt them – if it’s determined that California’s regulations are not as effective as the modified federal rules.

California’s revised Hazard Communication Standard was submitted and heard by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board on November 15, 2012. The regulation was adopted March 21, 2013 and went into effect on May 6, 2013.

California Changes

Because the regulation deals primarily with health-related issues, Cal/OSHA reviewed the revised text to determine what, if any modifications to the California standard were necessary. This review resulted in the modification and adoption of:

  • Revised criteria for classifying chemical hazards;
  • Revised labeling provisions that include requirements for use of standardized signal words, pictograms, hazard statements and precautionary statements;
  • A specified format for safety data sheets (previously referred to as material safety data sheets; and
  • Related revisions to definitions of terms used in the standard, and requirements for employee training on labels and safety data sheets.

Regulations that the review committee determined to be more effective than the federal standard were retained.

Phase-In Dates

Four phase-in dates are associated with the revised regulation. The first and primary date is that training regarding the new label elements and safety data sheet format must be given to employees by           December 1, 2013.

The remaining three dates deal with employer/manufacturer/distributor labeling and shipping requirements. These dates are June 1, 2015; December 1, 2015 and June 1, 2016.

New Appendices

Appendices A through D to Section 5194 have been repealed. Title 29, code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Section 1910.1200, Appendices A through D, respectively are referenced.

These are mandatory requirements addressing health hazard definitions, hazard determination, allocation of label elements and safety data sheets.

New appendices E and F, Definition of “Trade Secret” (Mandatory) and Guidance for Hazard Classification RE: Carcinogenicity (Non Mandatory), respectively, also referring to the CFR Section 1910.1200, Appendices E and F, have been adopted.

Federal OSHA adopted nine new pictograms. California adopted just eight pictograms, however. One of the nine pictograms deals with environmental hazards.

Cal/OSHA recognizes that it does not have enforcement authority for environmental hazards and therefore deemed that pictogram would be irrelevant in Title 8.

As could be expected with a rulemaking as extensive as the modified hazcom, many concerns were expressed at the public hearing. For example, the Standards Board retained some sections [5194(d)(3)-(5)] rather than adopting the federal language, and some people preferred the less restrictive federal language.

Because of the number of comments, Cal/OSHA will conduct future advisory committees to address these concerns. Additional rulemaking affects flammable and combustible liquids, process safety management, and most substance-specific health standards, to ensure consistency with the modified hazcoms requirements.

These modifications were heard at the August Standards Board meeting and will be addressed in a later article.

Background Information

OSHA stated that the modifications to the federal Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) were made to adopt the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

On its FAQ page, OSHA listed several reasons to adopt the GHS:

  • A more standardized approach to classifying the hazards and conveying the information will be more effective, and provide further improvements in American workplaces. The GHS provides such a standardized approach, including detailed criteria for determining what hazardous effects a chemical poses, as well as standardized label elements assigned by hazard class and category.
  • This will enhance both employer and worker comprehension of the hazards, which will help to ensure appropriate handling and safe use of workplace, chemicals. In addition, the safety data sheet requirements establish an order of information that is standardized. The harmonized format of the safety data sheets will enable employers, workers, health professionals, and emergency responders to access the information more efficiently and effectively, thus increasing their utility.
  • Adoption of the GHS in the U.S. and around the world also will help to improve information received from other countries – since the U.S. is both a major importer and exporter of chemicals. American workers often see labels and safety data sheets from other countries.
  • The diverse and sometimes conflicting national and international requirements can create confusion among those who seek to use hazard information effectively. For example, labels and safety data sheets may include symbols and hazard statements that are unfamiliar to readers or not well understood. Containers may be labeled with such a large volume of information that important statements are not easily recognized.
  • Given the differences in hazard classification criteria, labels also may by incorrect when used in other countries. If countries around the world adopt the GHS, these problems will be minimized, and chemicals crossing borders will have consistent information, thus improving communication globally.

OSHA also stated that it estimates that more than 5 million workplaces and approximately 43 million employees in the United States would be affected by the revised HCS.

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