Online Program

Hey, What Happened to the Right to Know? The Impact of the OSHA Adoption of the Globally Harmonized System

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Deborah Gold, MPH, CIH, retired Deputy Chief for Health, Cal/OSHA, Pacifica, CA
During the 1990s there was an international effort to normalize labeling of hazardous substances, which became known as the “Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS),” which was endorsed by UN committee in 2003. The system contained options for adoption by each participating country. In 2012 OSHA became the first US agency to implement the system by amending the hazard communications standard. This created the most sweeping changes to the U.S. right-to-know regulation since 1994. As an OSHA state plan, California was required to make corresponding changes.

This presentation will discuss the impact of the federal changes particularly on the disclosure of chemical ingredients and information regarding health effects, how California’s regulation was impacted by the federal changes, and the efforts and limited success of employee advocates in California in maintaining important protections.

Chemical companies were able to significantly impact disclosure requirements in the federal GHS adoption. OSHA can take actions that will prevent a degradation of the right-to-know, including enforcement of the existing provisions for disclosure, challenging of chemical manufacturers’ determinations of risk, and modifying the adopted regulation. The Environmental Protection Agency’s current labeling requirements are more protective than the GHS as adopted by OSHA, and the effort to ensure that employees and the public are informed about chemical hazards is likely to shift to EPA as it implements the GHS.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Identify the changes in the right-to-know regulations due to OSHA adoption of the Globally Harmonized System. Formulate a strategy to ensure disclosure of chemicals and health effects to workers and the public

Keyword(s): Chemical Exposures & Prevention, Occupational Health and Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the deputy chief for health for Cal/OSHA during the adoption of the GHS regulation in California. I was responsible for analyzing the federal GHS adoption in regards to California's existing laws and regulations, and right-to-know policy, and for preparing the proposal for amending California's regulation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.