OSHA Floats Changes to Labeling Rules


United States regulators are proposing changes in hazardous materials labeling billed as aligning with global protocols while also reducing costs for businesses.

The Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association is not taking it for granted, though, that businesses would benefit and is encouraging member companies to study the proposals and provide feedback to the government.

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The proposals are long-awaited updates to the Hazard Communication System drafted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The current rules align with Version 3 of the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling Chemicals, but the changes being considered would catch the United States up with Version 8 of GHS.

Proponents say that alone benefits suppliers of materials with any hazard designation because it reduces needs to adhere to multiple systems. In addition, OSHA contends that the draft changes represent an overall reduction in requirements and are therefore considered deregulatory and cost saving for business.

In a letter to member companies this month, ILMA said the proposals would make for enormous change. If finalized, the March 3 letter stated, the draft changes “require nearly every [safety data sheet] and container label to be updated.”

The association noted that the lubricants industry is especially affected by HCS, recalling that when OSHA promulgated the last revisions in 2012 the agency estimated that 40% of the new safety data sheets that would be required would have to be written by lubricant blenders and that they would incur 20% of compliance costs.

OSHA is accepting public comments about the proposals. ILMA is providing explanations about the proposed changes and is encouraging member companies to study them and to provide feedback. The association is also collecting comments that it will submit on behalf of members.