Hazardous Chemicals

OSHA, American Chemistry Council Sign Alliance to Protect Workers from Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) established a two-year alliance [ https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/alliances/acc/acc.html ] recently to raise awareness of how workers are exposed to diisocyantes, and promote safe practices for their use in the polyurethane industry.

Isocyanates [ https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/isocyanates/index.html ] are raw materials used to make polyurethane products, such as insulation, car seats, foam mattresses, shoes, and adhesives. Exposure to isocyanates can cause irritation of the skin and mucous membranes, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. More serious health effects include asthma and other lung problems.

The alliance calls for the creation of a web-based training program on the safe use of chemicals and the potential routes of exposure to users. It will also develop guidance on medical surveillance and clinical evaluation techniques for employers and workers using the chemicals. The agreement also calls for best practices seminars on health and safety procedures for OSHA, On-Site Consultation, and State Plan staff.

OSHAs new alliance with ACC will help ensure that employers and employees who work with the identified chemicals better understand the health hazards associated with these potentially hazardous chemicals, and the methods to control employee exposures, said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt.

The ACC comprises the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI), and the Diisocyanates and Aliphatic Diisocyanates panels. Members of these groups include manufacturers and distributors of chemicals and equipment used to make polyurethane. CPI serves as the voice of the polyurethanes industry, covering more than 220,000 workers nationwide.

Through its Alliance Program [ https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/alliances/index.html ], OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources and to educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.OSHAs role is to ensure these conditions for Americas working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov [ http://www.osha.gov/ ].

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EPA to Put in Place Process to Evaluate Chemicals That May Pose Risk; First Time in 40 Years

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving swiftly to propose how it will prioritize and evaluate chemicals, given that the final processes must be in place within the first year of the new law’s enactment, or before June 22, 2017.

“After 40 years, we can finally address chemicals currently in the marketplace,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Today’s action will set into motion a process to quickly evaluate chemicals and meet deadlines required under, and essential to, implementing the new law.”

When the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976, it grandfathered in thousands of unevaluated chemicals that were in commerce at the time. The old law failed to provide EPA with the tools to evaluate chemicals and to require companies to generate and provide data on chemicals they produced.

EPA is proposing three rules to help administer the new process. They are:

Inventory Rule. There are currently over 85,000 chemicals on EPA’s Inventory, and many of these are no longer actively produced. The rule will require manufacturers, including importers, to notify EPA and the public on the number of chemicals still being produced.

Prioritization Rule. This will establish how EPA will prioritize chemicals for evaluation. EPA will use a risk-based screening process and criteria to identify whether a particular chemical is either high or low priority. A chemical designated as high priority must undergo evaluation. Chemicals designated as low priority are not required to undergo evaluation.

Risk Evaluation Rule. This will establish how EPA will evaluate the risk of existing chemicals. The agency will identify steps for the risk evaluation process, including publishing the scope of the assessment. Chemical hazards and exposures will be assessed, along with characterizing and determining risks. This rule also outlines how the agency intends to seek public comment on chemical evaluations.

These three rules incorporate comments received from a series of public meetings held in August 2016.

If EPA identifies unreasonable risk in the evaluation, it is required to eliminate that risk through regulations. Under TSCA, the agency must have at least 20 ongoing risk evaluations by the end of 2019.

Comments on the proposed rules must be received 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register. At that time, go to the dockets at https://www.regulations.gov/ and search for: HQ-OPPT-2016-0426 for the Inventory Rule; HQ-OPPT-2016-0636 for the Prioritization Rule; and HQ-OPPT-2016-0654 for the Risk Evaluation Rule.

Learn more about today’s proposals: https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/frank-r-lautenberg-chemical-safety-21st-century-act-5

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