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New MSDS Inspections Harbinger of Increased OSHA HazCom Enforcement?

  • December 30, 2003

It may be too early for crocuses, but hazard communication citations, those hardy perennials of OSHA enforcement, may soon be poking through the winter snows.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance officers soon will be furnished with model Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS's) to check against the employer's MSDS's for a number of chemical compounds. The initiative appears to be part of a larger OSHA effort in conjunction with chemical manufacturers to improve the accuracy of MSDS's and the effectiveness of hazard communication ("hazcom") training programs.

Alleged violations of the Hazard Communication Standard accounted for the second greatest number of citations issued by OSHA in the fiscal year ending September, 2003. Among other things, employers are required to have complete MSDS's (generally obtained from manufacturers or suppliers) for each covered chemical on their premises, to train employees to use the MSDS's, and to make them available to employees on all shifts. Renewed attention to the Hazard Communication Standard from OSHA inspectors may be expected as a result of the new procedure. Employers subject to the standard — and there are many — should take this opportunity to assure they have complete MSDS's, have obtained any additional or current MSDS's they may need, and otherwise are in compliance.

The Jackson Lewis Workplace Safety Practice Group is available to assist employers in these and other OSHA compliance efforts. Please contact the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work, or Workplace Safety Practice Group coordinators.

©2003 Jackson Lewis P.C. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Jackson Lewis and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material. This material may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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