By Brent I. Clark and Craig B. Simonsen

OSHA has recently released a “Small Entity Compliance Guide for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals.” OSHA 3695-03 2014.

As we noted in an earlier blog, OSHA had in 2012 issued a more than 800-page Final Rule revising the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), 29 C.F.R. 1910.1200.  The primary purpose of the revised rule was to improve employees’ understanding of health and physical hazards associated with chemical substances, and to align requirements for communicating those standards with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).  

The Agency’s Final Rule (77 Fed. Reg. 17574 (March 26, 2012)), with the adoption of the GHS,  mandated numerous changes that included: the use of Safety Data Sheets (SDS); the updating of hazard classifications; and new labeling requirements.

As an aid to “small entities,” OSHA has prepared this guide which addresses employer responsibilities under the HCS. Many of the provisions of the standard apply only to chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors. The guide will assist small employers that only use, but do not produce, chemicals, in order to identify the parts of the rule that apply to their facilities, “and help them to develop and implement an effective hazard communication program.”

Under the Final Rule, December 1, 2013, was the deadline by which employers must have trained employees on the new label elements and the new SDS format. As OSHA inspectors are going to be looking for these elements on their site inspections, employers need to make sure that all of their policy manuals and training programs are compliant with these new rules. Use the new OSHA Guide as a helpful tool, but check with your OSHA compliance attorney if you have any questions that are unanswered.