December 1st, 2015 is the date by which distributors can no longer send out hazardous chemicals labeled under the old (pre-GHS) HazCom Standard.
OSHA granted certain distributors a six-month extension beyond the June labeling deadline to divest themselves of product already labeled under the pre-GHS HazCom Standard and to accommodate those suppliers with container shipments that may have been received too close to the June 2015 deadline to have the proper GHS labeling.
Unfortunately, with the number of chemical manufacturers who missed the June 2015 deadline, it will be difficult for many distributors to be fully compliant with the December 2015 deadline, as well.
These delays will compound down the supply chain and only make it harder for employers to meet the fourth and final deadline on June 1, 2016. By this date, OSHA expects all employers to be fully compliant with GHS adoption, completing any necessary updates to hazard communication programs, including workplace labeling procedures. Additionally, all affected employees must be trained on any new hazards identified during the manufacturers’, distributors’, or importers’ chemical reclassification process.
OSHA revised the Hazard Communication Standard to align with GHS and laid out the compliance deadlines back in March 2012. Yet despite these clearly stated deadlines, many chemical manufacturers still missed important GHS deadlines, causing unpredictability for employers when it comes to safety data sheets and labels.
Earlier this year, OSHA anticipated GHS deadline issues and took steps to alleviate pressure felt by some chemical manufacturers that rely on upstream suppliers for chemical classifications. A Feb. 9, 2015, memorandum from Thomas Galassi, OSHA’s director of enforcement programs, stated that OSHA inspectors should take into account overall efforts, attention, and action(s) taken to comply with GHS and the June 1 deadline. The memo is directed specifically at chemical blenders who missed the deadline due to upstream supplier delays.
With this document, OSHA stated that it might not cite manufacturers and distributors who fail to meet this deadline if they’ve shown “reasonable diligence” and made a “good faith” effort to comply. To make this determination, OSHA will review both oral and written communications between chemical manufacturers and their upstream suppliers of raw materials. OSHA also will factor in whether or not these efforts were made in a timely manner.
To avoid a citation, non-compliant manufacturers and distributors will need to be able to tell an OSHA inspector when they do expect to be GHS compliant, with a specific timeline.