AIHAThe American Industrial Hygiene Association® (AIHA) today offered its support for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) final
rule updating the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). The final rule revises the HCS so that it is in alignment with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

“After more than 25 years since adoption of the HCS, AIHA is pleased that OSHA has finalized this update and fully supports provisions that update the development and distribution of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for hazardous chemicals,” said AIHA President Elizabeth Pullen, CIH. “The new Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) not only greatly improve the quality of MSDSs by establishing a harmonized structure and meaningful recommendations of content but will improve the protection provided to workers, employers and chemical users.”

While the association said it has not yet reviewed the entire final rule to determine specific requirements for training, exposure guidelines, hazard categories and other possible changes, it believes that more standardized labels and SDSs will make hazard communication information easier to use and therefore improve employee protection from hazards.

“With the continued expansion of the global economy, particularly in the manufacture and increased use of hazardous chemicals, many AIHA members have extensive experience and direct involvement with technical and policy issues regarding MSDSs and are involved in the development or review of MSDS for their employers," said Pullen. "Aligning the HCS with the GHS will provide AIHA members better tools to protect workers on a worldwide basis.”

Pullen said industrial hygienists have a key role to play in the implementation stage of the final rule.

"We intend to educate our members and others about the current activities related to the preparation and use of SDSs, including efforts to increase their quality and utility, implementation of a globally harmonized approach to their presentation, and updating the existing standards that provide guidance for development."

She said the AIHA is in the process of putting together plans for training in hazard communication.