“The OSHA SDS/GHS Hazcom Compliance Myth”

GHS SheetAfter the passage of the revised Hazcom standard in 2012, there was a great deal of confusion and misinformation generated regarding the revision from the old standard and format to the new one. This was and still is especially true for employers attempting to comply with “Employee Right to Know (Understand)” rules. By now, everybody knows about the new standardized 16 section format, the new pictograms and hazard phrases, etc. It is also commonly known that the deadline for training employees on how to read and interpret the difference between the old and new format was December 1, 2013. But what about all of the existing (m)SDS’s you have already? What do you need to do to comply with the new Hazcom rule regarding updating your collection of (m)SDS’s?

As someone who works for a company that offers (m)SDS management software, I hear over and over from our clients about the urgent need for them to update their (m)SDS binders so that they would be using the most recent “GHS compliant” version. When I asked them why they wanted to do this, every one of them said it was because they wanted to be compliant with the new GHS rule. When I asked them where they found out about the need to update their library, again almost every reply was unanimous……from a salesperson at a company who offers (m)SDS management software. OSHA compliance is serious business, but that means that there is also serious money to be made to help you maintain compliance. But how much of this is hype and what is really required?

The fact is that you must retain the newest versions of the (m)SDS as you receive them from your suppliers. Beyond that, OSHA does not require you to proactively update your existing collection, as long as your employees know and understand the difference between the new and old format. If one of your suppliers re-authors their (m)SDS into the new format, they are required by law to send you the new revision and you are required to replace the old one you already have with the new one that you received. You are not required to search for updates proactivly.

Keeping in mind that I work for a company that offers (m)SDS management software, I realize that any opinion I espouse should be met with appropriate skepticism. Therefore, please refer directly to what OSHA has said. A letter of clarification was issued on June 13, 2014 to address this issue. Here is the relevent text:

“…OSHA would not issue citations for maintenance of MSDSs when SDSs have not been received….employers may, but are not required to, contact manufacturers or distributers of products they have previously ordered to request new SDSs”.

Here is a link to the full text: OSHA letter of clarification:  http://www.m3vsoftware.com/downloads/OSHA-Letter-of-Clarification.pdf

M3V has been providing web based (m)SDS management tools since 2002. For more information about our products and services, please click:
SDS Explorer
Chemical Management Navigator
EH&S Task Manager
Ross Olsby
M3V Data Management
11925 East 65th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46236

Source: M3V Data Management:  http://www.m3vsoftware.com/News.asp

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OSHA QuickTakes – January 16, 2013

OSHA QuickTakes

New resources available on protecting hospital workers, enhancing patient safety

OSHA hosts informal public meeting, extends comment period on proposed rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses

Stakeholders join OSHA for silica rulemaking Web chat

Listening sessions seek public input on chemical safety

Assistant Secretary Michaels addresses National COSH Conference, celebrates graduating class of bilingual training program

Reliable Castings Corp. of Ohio fined more than $293,000 for multiple violations including struck-by, crushing and amputation hazards

Tyson Foods cited for safety violations after worker’s hand severed by unguarded machine at Kansas facility

Two trucking companies ordered to pay damages for retaliating against drivers

Connecticut Superior Court dismisses lawsuit by trucking company

NACOSH meeting scheduled for February

New study finds increased risk between silica and lung cancer and need for action to protect workers

Recent fatalities serve as reminder to ensure worker safety during demolition

OSHA renews strategic partnership with electrical transmission and distribution contractors, associations to reduce worker injuries, deaths

Alliance with Scaffold and Access Industry Association renewed to protect workers from scaffold hazards

New and updated OSHA resources available

El Paso office teams with temp worker agency, free consultation program for workplace safety outreach

Phoenix unveils fall protection billboards

Columbus office cohosts construction safety day

New on the DOL blog: OSHA celebrates 43rd anniversary

Help OSHA evaluate its heat illness prevention campaign

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Addressing Safety Challenges for Disabled Workers – “How Do You Get Through Your Day?”

Richie Parker, HMS Engineer -“How Do You Get Through Your Day?” – Video Courtesy of Hendrick Motorsports® ESPN®

Employees in today’s workplace face many challenges. Work forces have been cut, and in many cases, workdays have been extended. Older workers are unable to retire, while younger workers are unable to find work. New technology is introduced into the workplace, requiring all to relearn how to perform their jobs. This is difficult for the average worker, but it is extremely difficult if an employee is further hindered by disabilities.

Disabilities of all types affect employees and can pose various mental or physical challenges. In many situations, a disability may impact the amount of time it takes for an employee to complete a task or get from one part of a facility to another. Some disabilities may be known while others remain unknown to an employer. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employees with disabilities can continue to work without fear of losing their jobs1.

All employees with disabilities deserve the right to support their families. If otherwise qualified for a job, a disability should not take away an individual’s opportunity to work. Existing laws protected those discriminated against for race, sex, national origin and color, but the ADA was the first law to speak for those with disabilities in the workplace.

The ADA disallows discrimination against otherwise qualified individuals in an employment setting because of mental or physical disabilities2. This means that in many situations, the employer has to adjust a work environment to allow an employee to function. In 2009, the ADA was amended to include additional information and coverage. This amendment required the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to make changes to their regulations regarding the term “substantially limits” and how it is defined2. It also broadens the definition of “major life activities” to include many new activities.

Workplace Adaptations

As with any law that changes the workplace, some fight or avoid it while others fully embrace and promote it. One major compliance concern deals with accessibility. Because of this, many workplaces have adjusted or created more accessible entrances and exits to their facilities, allowing more independence for persons in wheelchairs. Other subtle changes may include the height of water fountains, width of bathroom stalls, hand rails inside the stalls and long ramps instead of stairs. The path of travel that employees take should never be obstructed; there should be no barriers to prevent someone from getting to safety in an emergency3.

Making accommodations in the workplace is important, yet one must avoid making a spectacle of employees with disabilities. One concept being utilized in workplaces is universal design, which is best defined as designing products and work spaces to allow use by everyone, regardless of disability4. This eliminates many cases of employees standing out or requiring special assistance to be able to complete their tasks. Better designed work spaces can increase function for all employees, regardless of age4. This still is a relatively new idea and few examples exist in the workplace despite multiple studies proving the effectiveness.

The goal is to remove all barriers and allow everyone to concentrate on completing job tasks.

Workstations easily can be adapted to follow this universal design. Many companies now use slide-out keyboard trays and monitors on swinging arms to allow employees to adjust to their needs. Desks can accommodate wheelchairs in place of regular chairs, and general work spaces can be lowered to allow easier access. All workplaces eventually will follow the universal design approach3. The main goal is to remove all barriers and allow everyone to concentrate more on completing their tasks.

The biggest challenge with universal design is accommodating the multitude of challenges that different disabilities present. Not all disabilities are the same, and not all will present the same challenges for employees. Some employees may have issues with their right hand while others have issues with their left. For some, it may involve not being able to stand or sit. Some may need low lighting, while others need bright lighting. Designing a facility to accommodate all is always going to be a challenge.

Some disabilities require a service animal to be able to get around or reach materials. ADA protects those that need such animals. This can create another complication for an employer if other employees are allergic to such animals. The employer must work with all parties involved to find a solution.

Companies using older facilities often have the most trouble complying with guidelines of the ADA. Designing a building from the ground up is much easier than attempting to retrofit existing facilities. Some of the complications with retrofitting facilities include adding adequate doorways. Depending on the design of the structure, adding doorways can be complicated and require an extensive amount of remodeling. Other complications include retrofitting areas with stairs and restrooms with stalls that are too narrow. Moving plumbing may require the existing floor to be torn out and require a lot of time.

Read the remainder of the story here: http://ehstoday.com/safety/addressing-safety-challenges-disabled-workers

Source: EHS Today®


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