In order to address a perceived lack in regulations regarding hazardous chemicals in the workplace, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration has introduced new revisions to its Hazardous Communication Standard, bringing it into alignment with the U.N.’s international labeling standard. The changes are expected to prevent about 43 deaths, resulting in over $475 million in increased productivity, each year. The new changes will become fully implemented in 2016 when hazardous chemical will present more consistent and straightforward depictions of their potentially harmful nature and will each be classified according to their potential hazards.
In addition to a decrease in number of annual lethal cases, the modifications are intended to prevent nearly 600 injuries and illnesses per year, reduce trade barriers due to new international standardizations, and improve productivity for businesses that use hazardous chemicals. An estimated savings of $31.2 million is also expected for companies that must update chemical safety data sheets. Until the final completion date in 2016, any business participating in the manufacture, importation, distribution, and use may comply with either the eventual standard or the current standard.
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said, “Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious dangers facing American workers today. Revising OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard will improve the quality, consistency and clarity of hazard information that workers receive, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive in the global marketplace.”