The White House announced August 23 final regulatory reform plans for federal agencies and departments, including OSHA and EPA, that the administration saidobamaincludes “hundreds of initiatives that will reduce costs, simplify the system, and eliminate redundancy and inconsistency,” in a press statement.

“Significant burden-reducing rules have been finalized or publicly proposed from the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Transportation. These rules are expected to save more than $4 billion over the next five years,” according to the administration.

OSHA’s proposed standard to revise its hazard communication rule to align with the United Nation’s Global Harmonization Standard (GHS) for hazcom, already adopted by much of the world, will require employers to use new hazardous chemical labels and material safety data sheets and train employees in the new hazcom formats. The rule was described by the administration as a means to “simplify and to improve hazard warnings for workers, likely saving employers over $2.5 billion over the next five years without compromising safety.”

According to the White House: “The proposed modifications in (OSHA’s) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) concerning the hazard communication standard (HCS) are expected to benefit employers in two primary ways. First, the harmonization of hazard classifications, safety data sheet (SDSs) formats, and warning labels will also yield substantial savings to businesses. On the producer side, fewer different SDSs will have to be produced for affected chemicals, and many SDSs will be able to be produced at lower cost due to harmonization and standardization.

“Second, for users, OSHA expects that they will see reductions in operating costs due to the decreased number of SDSs, the standardization of SDSs that will make it easier to locate information and determine handling requirements, and other factors related to simplification and uniformity that will improve workplace efficiency.

“Finally, OSHA estimates that the revisions to the HCS will result in reductions in the cost of training employees on the HCS in future periods because standardized SDS and label formats will reduce the amount of time needed to familiarize employees with the HCS and fewer systems will have to be taught since all producers will be using the same system.

“OSHA’s preliminary estimate is that establishing a harmonized system for the classification and labeling of chemicals will create a substantial annualized savings for employers ranging from $585 million to $798.4 million. The majority of these benefits will be realized through increases in productivity for health and safety managers as well as for logistics personnel with savings ranging from $472 million to $569 million.11

Simplifying requirements for hazard communication training are estimated to provide savings up to $285.2 million. Additionally, establishing uniform safety data sheets and labels will save between $16 million and $32.2 million. OSHA plans to finalize the NPRM in by the end of the year.