By Brent I. Clark, Adam R. Young, and Craig B. Simonsen

iStock_000011623330_MediumThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently released a draft Guidance on Data Evaluation for Weight of Evidence Determination: Application to the 2012 Hazard Communication Standard.

We had previously blogged about OSHA’s 2012 Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), including an Enforcement Guidance,  and a Directive on Inspection Procedures.  OSHA implemented the HCS to protect against hazardous chemical injuries and illnesses by providing employers and workers with sufficient information to anticipate, recognize, evaluate, and control chemical hazards. The HCS requires employers, manufacturers, and importers to communicate the information through safety data sheets (SDSs), labels, and employee training.

OSHA provided this draft Guidance to help employers “consider all available information in relation to the classification of a hazard.” The Guidance proposes a “weight of evidence (WoE)” approach to assist manufacturers, importers and employers in evaluating scientific studies on the potential health hazards of a chemical and determining what information must be disclosed on the label and SDS for compliance with the HCS. The draft WoE Guidance “compliments” OSHA’s also recently published 432 page “Hazard Communication: Hazard Classification Guidance for Manufacturers, Importers, and Employers,” No. OSHA 3844-02 2016.

The WoE Guidance, OSHA explained, helps employers apply the “WoE approach” systematically and explains the types of information that need to be considered in order to establish classifications under the HCS. The Guidance provides “general examples on how to apply” the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) criteria, to help manufacturers/employers properly “classify chemical hazards.”

OSHA has extended the comment period on the draft Guidance to May 2, 2016.