BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In the upcoming December feature, “OSHA gives employees the right to know,” Group Assistant Editor Maria Woodie discusses chemical safety and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS).

“Earlier this year chemical usage in the carwash industry made headlines throughout the U.S., after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report on the potential danger of using these products. Based on a study conducted by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, the CDC report found new evidence that chemicals in some carwash products may be dangerous for employees, evaluating workers’ compensation reports from 2001-13 which stated that 48 workers suffered burns from products containing hydrofluoric acid (HF).”

Following these findings, says Woodie, the International Carwash Association (ICA) reviewed the reports on chemical usage and consulted many industry sources, releasing a statement recommending owners and operators cease using products containing HF or its precursors — mainly ammonium bifluoride, or ABF.

“Considering the recent CDC report as well as the frequency of chemical usage in the carwash industry, car care business owners and operators must ensure their employees are properly informed and trained on handling chemicals,” she continues.

Often referred to as the “right to know” standard, OSHA’s HCS requires employers to inform and train workers about potential hazardous chemicals at the workplace, explains Woodie.

“It is imperative for every carwash owner/operator to know these rules and regulations, not just to avoid OSHA fines and sanctions, but for the safety, health and knowledge of their workforce,” says Matt Holmes, safety and compliance manager for Simoniz USA, in the article.

In March 2012, says Woodie, OSHA revised HCS to align with the U.N.’s Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) and published the revision in the Federal Register. The modified standard, according to OSHA, contains two key changes: the requirement for new labeling elements and a standardized format for safety data sheets (SDSs).

In the article, Woodie shares OSHA HCS deadlines, phased over several years, which include:

  • Dec. 1, 2013: Employees must be trained on the new label elements and SDS format.
  • June 1, 2015: Manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers had to comply with all modified provisions of the HSC final rule.
  • Dec. 1, 2015: Distributors are permitted to ship products labeled under the old system by manufacturers until this date.
  • June 1, 2016: Employers must update their alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication programs as necessary as well as provide any additional employee training for newly identified health/physical hazards.

Make sure to read the entire feature on OSHA’s HCS, and how you can ensure safe and productive operations, as well as the rest of the informative articles in our upcoming December issue. And, while we wait for the December issue, peruse through the pages of the November issue here.