OSHA Readies Three Hazcom Guidance Docs; Advice for Small Companies Expected First

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By Robert Iafolla

March 5 --The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is preparing three guidance documents on its new hazard communication standard to help employers comply with the rule, an agency official said March 5.

Maureen Ruskin, OSHA's top hazard communication official, said the agency is working on a guidebook on the standard tailored for small- and medium-sized companies, and another specifically on hazard classification under the rule.

In addition, OSHA's enforcement division is developing a compliance directive on the standard, Ruskin said during a session at the GlobalChem 2014 Conference and Exhibition in Baltimore, an annual gathering organized by the American Chemistry Council and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates.

Ruskin told Bloomberg BNA after the session that the small-company guidebook is likely to be ready first. That guidebook is going through final formatting and could be published in a matter of days or within a month, she said.

OSHA hopes to finish its hazard classification guidance in a few months, Ruskin said.

Ruskin said she couldn't predict when the compliance directive would be finished because the enforcement division is responsible for it. Compliance directives instruct inspectors on how to enforce OSHA standards and are publicly available on the agency's website.

OSHA finalized its updated regulations for hazard communication in March 2012 to harmonize U.S. rules with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. The lion's share of the regulation takes effect in June 2015.

The agency has previously issued a series of fact sheets, quick cards and other guidance on the standard. Most recently, OSHA developed technical guidance on applying requirements of the rule to combustible dust, petroleum streams, hazards not otherwise classified and specific target organ toxicity.

The agency developed the guidance as part of a deal to settle a legal challenge against the rule brought by the American Petroleum Institute.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Iafolla in Washington at riafolla@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jim Stimson at jstimson@bna.com

Existing OSHA information on its hazard communication standard is available at https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/.

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