OSHA HAZCOM UPDATES: U.S. DOL Publishes Fall 2019 Unified Regulatory Agenda

On November 20, 2019 the U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affiars (OIRA) published the federal government’s Fall 2019 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. Within the Unified Agenda, the Department of Labor (DOL) has released its list of anticipated regulatory actions for the coming year. Among these actions are highly-anticipated revisions to OSHA’s Hazard Communication (HazCom 2012) Standard. If your workplace uses hazardous chemicals covered under OSHA’s HazCom 2012 Standard, you should be prepared for some major changes to how you manage workplace chemical safety and compliance.

Regulatory Background

If you’ve been following the VelocityEHS Blog, you know that over the past couple years, DOL and OSHA have been preparing to update the HazCom 2012 Standard in order to align its requirements with Revision 7 of the UN’s Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

OSHA first hinted at proposed alignment with GHS Revision 7 in its Spring 2018 Regulatory Agenda, suggesting that a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) could be published as early as February 2019. The Fall 2018 Unified Agenda delayed that target date until March 2019, and the subsequent Spring 2019 Unified Agenda pushed that target date back even further to December 2019.

Current Status of HazCom 2012 Updates

OSHA’s current Fall 2019 Unified Agenda has once again delayed the target date for the NPRM, but only by one month. The new target date for NPRM is currently slated for January 2020. Once the NPRM is published, there will be a 90-day public comment period during which stakeholders can submit their feedback on the proposed changes, potentially followed by an informal public hearing and concluding with the issuance of a Final Rule.

During the recent Chemical Watch U.S. Regulatory Summit on November 4, Maureen Ruskin, Deputy Director for OSHA’s Directorate of Standards and Guidance stated, "That could be a six-month process right there," so I would say that it is not likely that we would finalize by the end of next year [2020]."

The Takeaway

Even though GHS Revision 7 changes to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard are as much as a year away, covered employers should be preparing for the process of updating their workplace hazard communication program to meet the new requirements. That includes updating your workplace OSHA Written HazCom Plan, safety data sheets (SDSs), chemical container labels and HazCom training programs.

One of the most important lessons learned from OSHA’s initial rollout of HazCom 2012 was that many employers had difficulty meeting the new GHS-aligned requirements because they were not in compliance with pre-GHS HazCom 1994 requirements to begin with. Without a strong hazard communication program already in place, this ultimately made it more difficult for employers to adapt to the new standards. Covered employers should take this lesson to heart, and ensure your workplace is in full compliance with the current HazCom 2012 Standard in order to simplify your transition to future requirements.  If you’re wondering what’s new with GHS Revision 7, be sure to check out our VelocityEHS Blog article “Are You Ready for the GHS Revision 7 Changes?

 VelocityEHS Can Help!

When it comes to chemical hazard communication, VelocityEHS is the industry leader. Our award-winning MSDSonline chemical management solutions have helped more than 18,000 customers and 10 million users around the globe to simplify compliance and maintain workplace safety, while our in-house team of EHS experts is dedicated to keeping our customers at the leading edge of hazard communication regulations like OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard.

To see for yourself how VelocityEHS can help you simplify compliance with HazCom 2012 and prepare for the future of compliance, Request a Demo today or give us a call at 1.888.362.2007