Details of OSHA's new initiative — announced days before a Congressional hearing into problems with material safety data sheets — can be found on a new page on OSHA's Web site. The page contains hazcom standard compliance materials and these documents:

  • A "Hazard Determination Guidance" will help chemical manufacturers and importers identify the right information, assess it and translate it into a proper hazard determination. OSHA is taking public comments on this document. The hazard communication standard covers some 650,000 hazardous chemical products.

  • A "Model Training Program" provides guidance for developing and conducting an employee training program, including a number of slides that employers can adapt to their workplaces. This is also posted for comment.

  • "Guidance for Preparation of MSDSs" will be posted for comment after comment periods close for the first two documents. It will address accuracy and comprehensibility of MSDSs and will suggest sources of information and types of information to include. Chemical manufacturers and importers must develop MSDSs on each product they identify as hazardous.

    Internationally developed and peer reviewed International Chemical Safety Cards (ICSCs), are available on OSHA’s Web site to use as a screening tool for reviewing MSDSs. They cover more than 1,300 substances and are available in multiple languages.

    OSHA's new hazcom emphasis also has an enforcement angle. The hazcom rule was the second most frequently cited OSHA standard last year, following scaffolding requirements. Inspectors will use sample hazard information on selected chemicals to check the accuracy of MSDSs. Deficiencies will be brought to the attention of the party responsible for supplying the MSDS, and failure to make corrections may result in the issuance of citations.

    OSHA is also evaluating the adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), and preparing a guide to increase awareness of the GHS. Adoption of the GHS in the U.S. could improve the quality of MSDSs and labels, according to the agency.