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Resubmitting revised SDSs based on OSHA's new Hazard Communication Standards

Pursuant to 40 CFR Part 370, facilities must submit a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for each hazardous chemical or submit a list of all hazardous chemicals for which the facility is required to prepare or have available an MSDS under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) and are present at the facility equal to or above the applicable threshold.  Facilities must subsequently submit a revised MSDS to the LEPC, the SERC, and the local fire department after they discover significant new information concerning a hazardous chemical for which an MSDS was submitted (§370.31(a)).

On March 26, 2012, OSHA modified its HCS to conform to the United Nations’ (UN) Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).  As part of these modifications, chemical manufacturers and importers are required to re-evaluate chemicals according to the new criteria adopted from GHS in order to ensure that pure chemicals and mixtures are classified appropriately.  The new criteria must be provided to downstream users in revised MSDSs, now referred to as safety data sheets (SDSs).  The modifications also established a new uniform format for SDSs, containing 16 specific sections with headings for each section to ensure consistency in presentation of information.  Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to distribute modified SDSs to downstream users of their chemicals.  The effective date for completion of these requirements is June 1, 2015.

If a facility receives a revised SDS with significant new information, such as a chemical with a different hazard classification based on the new GHS criteria, does the facility need to submit the revised SDS to the LEPC, the SERC, and the local fire department?  If a facility receives a modified SDS in the new format, but the hazard classification has not changed, does the facility need to submit the modified SDS to the LEPC, the SERC, and the local fire department?

OSHA regulations require an SDS to be revised within three months after a chemical manufacturer or employer becomes aware of significant new information concerning the hazards of a chemical. The EPCRA regulations merely require that such revised MSDS (SDS) also be submitted to the agencies that have the original MSDS (SDS). Therefore, facilities may want to consult the OSHA regulations and guidance to determine if a revised SDS must be prepared and, therefore, subsequently submitted under EPCRA.

If the hazard classification changes based on the OSHA HCS revisions to incorporate the GHS criteria, facilities that originally submitted MSDSs (SDSs) must subsequently submit a revised MSDS (SDS) to the LEPC, the SERC, and the local fire department. It is important to note that the requirement to resubmit an MSDS (SDS) upon discovery of significant new information is only for facilities that submitted MSDSs (SDSs) instead of a list of chemicals (EPCRA Section 311(d)(2) and §370.31(a)). The facility must also submit the MSDS (SDS) for any hazardous chemical if requested by your LEPC as stated in 40 CFR 370.32(b) and 370.33(c).

If a facility receives a modified MSDS (SDS) in the new standardized, 16-section format, but the hazard classification has not changed, the facility should check with the appropriate state. States were always given the flexibility to implement EPCRA as needed to meet the goals of EPCRA in their communities. Each state may have specific requirements for submitting information under EPCRA, including electronic reporting. Therefore, facilities should first contact their states regarding the submission of modified MSDSs (SDSs).

Additional information on the changes to the OSHA HCS, including a link to the March 26, 2012, final rule, is available on OSHA’s hazard communication safety and health topics page at the following URL: