A Chemical Safety Data Sheet, or chemical SDS, provides much-needed information about hazards that are located within the workplace. OSHA and EPA regulations help companies create risk management programs in order to minimize exposure to chemicals.
On June 22, President Obama signed into law the Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. This act represents the first major legislation to regulate chemical management in the US since the TSCA was passed 40 years ago. The reforms finally empower the EPA to effectively evaluate and mitigate chemicals heretofore presumed safe simply because they had not been tested. The agency must now also affirm the safety of any new chemical before it can be marketed. The Lautenberg Act raises the importance of chemical management as a function of public trust to the level of the Clean Water Act, with the potential to have the same long-term positive impact on this and future generations of Americans.
Although they are regulated by law, safety data sheets are older than most modern regulatory agencies. The earliest records detailing chemical ingredients come from the Egyptian physician, Imhotep, who recorded how he treated various ailments. What began as individualized prescriptions and recipes over 4,000 years ago have now evolved into the global standard for communicating crucial information about chemicals.
With Congress considering the reconciliation of the Senate and House proposals to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) legislation for the first time since 1976, chemical management and how it will be affected by new TSCA rules has become a hot button issue in the chemical manufacturing business. Despite President Obama’s long-anticipated Supreme Court nomination taking up much of the spotlight in Congress, legislators are optimistic that broad bipartisan support for the bill will keep it moving forward through the final approval process. A number of the proposed changes remain hotly debated throughout the industry, with the burden of proof, the safeguarding of proprietary information, and the “nomenclature” or inventory section being among the most contentious.
It’s understandable to feel stressed when thinking about being inspected by OSHA. Thankfully, OSHA has made strides to ensure employers have the necessary information to feel adequately prepared.