OSHA Update will Save 43 Lives

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 11:07 PM gHale

By Nicholas Sheble
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), aligning it with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.

The revised HCS will see full implementation by 2016 and will benefit workers and chemical operators by reducing confusion related to chemical hazards in the workplace, facilitating safety training, and improving understanding of the hazards, especially for low-literacy workers.

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Particular modifications to the standard include:
• Revised criteria for classification of chemical hazards
• Revised labeling provisions that include requirements for use of standardized signal words, pictograms, hazard statements, and precautionary statements
• A specified format for safety data sheets
• Revisions to definitions of terms used in the standard
• Requirements for employee training on labels and safety data sheets

OSHA is also modifying provisions of other standards, including standards for flammable and combustible liquids, process safety management, and most substance-specific health standards so as to ensure consistency with the new HCS requirements.

OSHA said the new standard will prevent 43 deaths and result in over $475 million in added productivity for U.S. businesses each year.

During the transition period to the effective completion dates noted in the standard, chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers may comply with either 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910.1200, the current standard, or both.

Annual Benefits, Costs, and Net Benefits of OSHA’s Final HCS

Annualized Costs
Reclassification of Chemical Hazards and Revision of SDSs and Labels $22.5 million
Employee Training $95.4 million
Management Familiarization and Other Costs $59.0 million
Printing Packaging and Labels for Hazardous Chemicals in Color $24.1 million
Total Annualized Costs $201 million

Annual Health and Safety Benefits
Number of Non-lost-workday Injuries and Illnesses Prevented 318 (159 -1,590)
Number of Lost Workday Injuries and Illnesses Prevented 203 (101 – 1,015)
Number of Chronic Injuries Prevented 64 (33 – 320)
Number of Fatalities Prevented 43 (22 – 215)

Annualized Benefits
Monetized Benefits of Reduction in Safety and Health Risks $250.0 million
Savings from Productivity Improvements $475.2 million
Savings from Periodic Updating of SDSs and Labels $32.2 million
Savings from Simplified Hazard Communication Training Unquantified
Savings from Reductions in Non-tariff Trade Barriers Unquantified
OSHA Standards that Are Consistent with Other Standards Unquantified
Contribution towards Achieving International Goals Unquantified

Total Annual Monetized Benefits $757 million

Net Annual Monetized Benefits (Benefits Minus Costs) $556 million

Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Evaluation and Analysis, Office of Regulatory Analysis

Click here to read the final rule, all 858 pages of it.

Nicholas Sheble (nsheble@isssource.com) is an engineering writer and technical editor in Raleigh, NC.

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