Written on: September 2, 2014 by Mike Moffatt
Summer 2014 was anything but relaxing in the regulatory compliance world. With the June 1, 2015 Hazcom 2012 deadline rapidly approaching, companies are furiously completing Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and updating labels. Preparers of labels and SDS are still struggling with how to interpret the new rule. The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration(OSHA) has provided some assistance with the release of four interpretation letters stemming from requests for interpretations made by the American Petroleum Institute.
Letter A clarifies the combustible dust provisions for labels and SDS with a particular focus on products that do not pose a combustible dust hazard when shipped, but may when they are processed by the end user. It is available here.
Letter B is the long awaited guidance on OSHA’s Hazards Not Otherwise Classified(HNOC) classification. There is some clarity provided, such as the fact that water does not require an HNOC classification due to the fact that hot water may scald, nor does it require an HNOC classification due to water making floors slippery. Unfortunately, there are still a number of remaining questions when it comes to HNOCs. The guidance letter can be found here.
The third letter clarifies the classification of mixtures that contain 1–10% of a Category 1 STOT (Single Target Organ Toxicity) ingredient. The letter lays out the circumstances in which the product can be granted a less severe classification, and can be found here.
The final letter contains information on the classification of petroleum streams, which includes crude oil and anything derived from crude oil, such as butane or propane. For aerosol companies, this is likely the most useful of the four letters and provides guidance on both classification and the information that must be disclosed on a safety data sheet. It can be seen here.
GHS in Canada
Canada is slowly making progress on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification & Labeling of Chemicals(GHS) with Bill C-31, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, receiving Royal Assent on June 19, 2014. The bill contains a number of changes to Canada’s Hazardous Products Act that are needed for GHS to be implemented. Expect new regulations to be released in the Canada Gazette, Part I in the next six months that would take effect in June 2015. There will likely be a two- or three-year window for companies to achieve full compliance. As most labor regulations are at the provincial level, every Canadian province and territory will have to update their regulations as well.
The changes to the Hazardous Product Act are themselves important, as they raise the penalties for non-compliance and give the Minister of Health additional powers to protect the public against harmful products. Some of the key changes are as follows:
The full text of Bill C-31 can be found here, and it contains the amendments to the Hazardous Products Act.
We will be keeping a close eye on both the U.S. and Canadian GHS progress. I am cautiously optimistic that in my next article we will have additional U.S. guidance on Hazardous Not Otherwise Classified and new Canadian GHS regulations.