Say What? Congressman Introduces Bill to Simplify OSHA Regulation Wording

Tue, 2012-05-29

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does its best to try and provide a safe and healthy working environment, but reading and interpreting OSHA regulations can be a little frustrating.  Once you dig into the details, the
jargon and detailed information can be even more confusing!

One member of congress sees an opportunity to make it easier for businesses to understand the regulations they must comply with.

On January 18, 2012, Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley introduced the Plain Regulations Act (H.R. 3786).   This bill is intended to improve the effectiveness
and accountability of Federal agencies like OSHA to the public by promoting clear regulations that are easier for the government to implement and for the public to interpret.

"Gobbledygook dominates the regulations issued by government agencies, making it almost impossible for small businesses to understand the rules of the road." Braley states in a recent press release.  “The Plain Regulations Act would simplify rules, saving small businesses time and freeing up money that can be better used investing in growing the business and creating jobs.”

Simplifying and condensing OSHA standards makes a lot of sense.  Not only will it reduce the amount of time and money required to decipher the cryptic language in standards today, it also will increase comprehension of violations and the necessary steps required to comply with OSHA regulations.

OSHA has recognized that some of their regulations are a bit long-winded.  In their most recent update to a new Hazard Classification System, they reduced the amount of text in virtually every section, adding additional appendices where information that is more detailed is necessary.  

Take a look at the difference in the Hazard Classification section 1910.1200(d) from the original version in 1994 as compared to the one released this year.  This is just one section out of one standard- OSHA mandates businesses to comply to dozens of standards annually.

If the Plain Regulation Act passes, you will see more and more standards mandated by OSHA and other Federal Agencies include simplifications like you see here.

1910.1200(d) Hazard classification

HCS 1994HCS 2012

(d) Hazard determination.

(d)(1) Chemical manufacturers and importers shall evaluate chemicals produced in their workplaces or imported by them to determine if they are hazardous. Employers are not required to evaluate chemicals unless they choose not to rely on the evaluation performed by the chemical manufacturer or importer for the chemical to satisfy this requirement.

(d)(2) Chemical manufacturers, importers or employers evaluating chemicals shall identify and consider the available scientific evidence concerning such hazards. For health hazards, evidence which is statistically significant and which is based on at least one positive study conducted in accordance with established scientific principles is considered to be sufficient to establish a hazardous effect if the results of the study meet the definitions of health hazards in this section. Appendix A shall be consulted for the scope of health hazards covered, and Appendix B shall be consulted for the criteria to be followed with respect to the completeness of the evaluation, and the data to be reported.

(d)(3) The chemical manufacturer, importer or employer evaluating chemicals shall treat the following sources as establishing that the chemicals listed in them are hazardous:

(d)(3)(i) 29 CFR part 1910, subpart Z, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); or,

(d)(3)(ii) "Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents in the Work Environment," American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) (latest edition). The chemical manufacturer, importer, or employer is still responsible for evaluating the hazards associated with the chemicals in these source lists in accordance with the requirements of this standard.

(d)(4) Chemical manufacturers, importers and employers evaluating chemicals shall treat the following sources as establishing that a chemical is a carcinogen or potential carcinogen for hazard communication purposes:

(d)(4)(i) National Toxicology Program (NTP), "Annual Report on Carcinogens" (latest edition);

(d)(4)(ii) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) "Monographs" (latest editions); or

(d)(4)(iii) 29 CFR part 1910, subpart Z, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Note: The "Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances" published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health indicates whether a chemical has been found by NTP or IARC to be a potential carcinogen.

(d)(5) The chemical manufacturer, importer or employer shall determine the hazards of mixtures of chemicals as follows:

(d)(5)(i) If a mixture has been tested as a whole to determine its hazards, the results of such testing shall be used to determine whether the mixture is hazardous;

(d)(5)(ii) If a mixture has not been tested as a whole to determine whether the mixture is a health hazard, the mixture shall be assumed to present the same health hazards as do the components which comprise one percent (by weight or volume) or greater of the mixture, except that the mixture shall be assumed to present a carcinogenic hazard if it contains a component in concentrations of 0.1 percent or greater which is considered to be a carcinogen under paragraph (d)(4) of this section;

(d)(5)(iii) If a mixture has not been tested as a whole to determine whether the mixture is a physical hazard, the chemical manufacturer, importer, or employer may use whatever scientifically valid data is available to evaluate the physical hazard potential of the mixture; and,

(d)(5)(iv) If the chemical manufacturer, importer, or employer has evidence to indicate that a component present in the mixture in concentrations of less than one percent (or in the case of carcinogens, less than 0.1 percent) could be released in concentrations which would exceed an established OSHA permissible exposure limit or ACGIH Threshold Limit Value, or could present a health risk to employees in those concentrations, the mixture shall be assumed to present the same hazard.

(d)(6) Chemical manufacturers, importers, or employers evaluating chemicals shall describe in writing the procedures they use to determine the hazards of the chemical they evaluate. The written procedures are to be made available, upon request, to employees, their designated representatives, the Assistant Secretary and the Director. The written description may be incorporated into the written hazard communication program required under paragraph (e) of this section.

(d) Hazard classification.

(d)(1) Chemical manufacturers and importers shall evaluate chemicals produced in their workplaces or imported by them to classify the chemicals in accordance with this section.  For each chemical, the chemical manufacturer or importer shall determine the hazard classes, and where appropriate, the category of each class that apply to the chemical being classified.  Employers are not required to classify chemicals unless they choose not to rely on the classification performed by the chemical manufacturer or importer for the chemical to satisfy this requirement.

(d)(2) Chemical manufacturers, importers or employers classifying chemicals shall identify and consider the full range of available scientific literature and other evidence concerning the potential hazards. There is no requirement to test the chemical to determine how to classify its hazards.  Appendix Ato §1910.1200 shall be consulted for classification of health hazards, and Appendix Bto §1910.1200 shall be consulted for the classification of physical hazards.

(d)(3) Mixtures.

(d)(3)(i)Chemical manufacturers, importers, or employers evaluating chemicals shall follow the procedures described in Appendices A and B to §1910.1200 to classify the hazards of the chemicals, including determinations regarding when mixtures of the classified chemicals are covered by this section.

(d)(3)(ii) When classifying mixtures they produce or import, chemical manufacturers and importers of mixtures may rely on the information provided on the current safety data sheets of the individual ingredients except where the chemical manufacturer or importer knows, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should know, that the safety data sheet misstates or omits information required by this section.

Source: Side-by-Side Comparison of HCS 1994 vs. HCS 2012 

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