As discussed in a Q&A from several months back, OSHA modified its Hazard Communication Standard in 2012 to conform to what is called the GHS (the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals). Chemical manufacturers and importers have to evaluate their chemicals under the new standard, prepare new Safety Data Sheets (SDS - a new name for Material Safety Data Sheets), and label their products with newly formatted labels. In turn, employers with hazardous chemicals at the workplace must be sure that affected employees have access to the appropriate updated SDS and train employees on how to interpret the new labels and implement the SDS.
The new labeling/SDS requirement will be phased in through June 1, 2016. But the employer’s training of staff on the new elements in the labeling and data sheets must occur prior to December 1, 2013. You can do that training “in house” using materials available from OSHA, or you can use an OSHA consultant to perform the training. OSHA has issued “briefs” on the components of the new Hazard Communication Standard at http://ow.ly/qwqbO
. To learn the minimum that must be included in your training, see the “OSHA Fact Sheet on the December 1, 2013 Training Requirement” at http://ow.ly/qwqfk
. Note the Quick Cards and Briefs referenced at the end of the document.
So, yes, you should be concerned about employee safety and also about meeting the December 1st deadline. As we know, OSHA has enforced its Bloodborne Pathogen Standard against medical practices. It can easily add to its compliance review a check of whether your practice has provided the required training under the Hazard Communication Standard. Citations and penalties can result from a practice’s failure to abide by any applicable OSHA Standard, as can fines for retaliation against employees (potential whistleblowers) who complained about workplace conditions or lack of training.
If you need assistance with any OSHA compliance matter, or become the subject of an OSHA investigation, please contact our Managing Partner, Michael J. Schoppmann, Esq
at 1-800-445-0954 or via email at MSchoppmann@DrLaw.com