Today I was reading the EHS today (Environmental, Health and Safety) for December and read that the American Institute of Hygiene Associations, AIHA, Unveils Top EHS Public Policy Issues for 2011-2012 based upon a member survey.
The top issues for 2011 and 2012:
Updating Permissible Exposure Limits (PELS):
Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2)
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)/Globally Harmonized System (GHS)
OSHA Reform and NIOSH Recognition
Laboratory Accreditation (only 250 labs qualify now)
Three of these perked my interest to expand upon.
Updating Permissible Exposure Limits (PELS): Since these are consensus based limits and are the basic tool that EH&S to protect workers; it floored me that some of these limits have not been updated since 1960. The bright side is that OSHA has developed an internal group to discuss this very issue.
Material Safety Sheets (MSDS): The AIHA is supporting the adoption of the globally harmonized system of classification and labeling of chemicals (GHS). This is a voluntary international system that imposes no binding treaty obligations on countries. Per the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe 67 countries have adopted or amended this system.
Implementation by US Agencies:
According to the Sigma – Aldrich wed site that US implementation is likely to be staggered across all 4 agencies, listed below, ranging between 2007 – 2012. This might be optimistic since some of these agencies are still looking at the GHS and how it affects their current standards.
The department of labor (OSHA): Public hearings were held on March 31, 2010.
The department of Transportation (DOT): modified its regulations to incorporate most elements of the GHS.
The Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC): currently underway the CPSC is reviewing and determining what standards to implement and or adapt.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Transition in multiple stages over several years.
I know implementing these standards will have economic implications for the company which in turn could be passed on to the consumer, but I feel the GHS is a desirable objective as our markets become more global. I look forward to the day that I can pick up an MSDS sheet and see the desired information in the same order and format for each chemical that are used the labs that I design.
Laboratory Accreditation: The primary purpose of this program is to establish and maintain the highest possible standards of performance for laboratories analyzing samples to support the evaluation of occupational and environmental exposures to hazardous agents. Based on the web site I count less than 200 industrial Hygiene laboratory Accreditation Program (IHLAP) participants worldwide.