This week the Obama Administration signaled its interest in chemicals management and hazards communication in two key ways.

On Tuesday, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson delivered a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, in which she outlined the EPA’s “essential principles” for chemicals management, specifically stating goals for legislative reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) and enhancement of EPA’s existing chemicals management programs.  These principles call for TSCA reform to be based on sound science and pave the way for additional reporting of chemicals’ use and exposure information.

Today, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued a proposed rule to modify its existing Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to conform with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).  The proposed modifications to OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard include revised criteria for classification of chemical hazards; revised labeling provisions; and a specified format for safety data sheets.

Although Congress presently is focused on health care and climate change, the Administration’s actions indicate that it is only a matter of time before chemicals management issues come to the forefront. I, for one, am very curious to see how this plays out and what impact it will have on industry.


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