The long anticipated OSHA Hazard Communication deadline of June 1, 2015 is fast approaching and companies are scrambling to get their container labels and safety data sheets (SDS) completed. Of course we’ve known about the deadline for 3 years, so it shouldn’t be a surprise. Yet it seems that some companies have procrastinated so that they and their customers will not meet the deadline.
A request for a variance or delay in the enforcement of the June 1st deadline was requested since some manufacturers have not received updated SDS from their vendors of raw materials. The deadline for these upstream manufacturers is also 6/1/15 and therefore many companies have not received sufficient information to create their final product SDS.
OSHA declined the request for any delay in the deadline but provided enforcement guidance for Compliance Officers that provides flexibility in enforcement of the deadline. The enforcement guidance may be used up to two years.
Downstream manufacturers need to illustrate “reasonable diligence and good faith efforts” in attempting to obtain the updated SDS. This will require documentation of letters, phone calls, or emails dated prior to the deadline, requesting these documents. There should be a documented attempt to find another source to provide the needed information and a developed plan of action to comply with the requirements once the required information is available.
Assuming the manufacturer can provide evidence of good faith efforts, they must comply with the requirements of the standard within 6 months of the date they receive the new information. Old MSDS and labels may be used until that time and no citations will be issued.
Distributors are also provided with flexible enforcement for products that have old labels or MSDS if they can show documented evidence of communication with their supplier regarding the lack of compliance. The allowable time for shipping these specific products with old labels ends 12/1/17. They are required to provide the new SDS with the first shipment after its receipt.
For employers using hazardous chemicals this means you may still be seeing old 1994 compliant labels and MSDS longer than expected. Users should continue to maintain old MSDS until they are provided with new SDS from the supplier.
Remember that employers still have a deadline next year, 6/1/16, to update their HazCom Program. Employers are also responsible for updating employee training if new SDSs indicate a change in the hazards, handling or controls needed for chemicals previously used.
OSHA’s Response letter to the National Association of Chemical Distributors regarding the petition to delay the June 1, 2015 deadline.