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ASA Offers Comments to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard

On Thursday, May 20, 2021, ASA in conjunction with the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) submitted comments to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding its proposed rule to amend the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS).  In general, ASA, along with the CISC, supports OSHA’s adoption of the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification of Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) (a system that provides a common, coherent approach to classifying and communicating chemical hazards, such that there is quality and consistency of information provided to employers and employees regarding chemical hazards and protective measures needed).  However, ASA, along with the CISC, is concerned with the familiarization, training, and compliance costs imposed on the construction industry by continuous updates to OSHA’s HCS.  ASA, along with the CISC, has particular concerns regarding the costs to small businesses, which are common within the construction industry.  Even though such businesses are generally only end users of these chemicals, they still incur regulatory costs associated with updates to the HCS.  While OSHA’s proposal acknowledges costs to downstream employers as a whole, and specific costs to employers within certain industries, as set forth below the costs do not reflect the actual resources needed for compliance by employers and the proposal omits any estimated costs for the construction industry.

Per our comments:

“While the CISC appreciates OSHA’s overall recognition of the costs of compliance for affected employers, we respectfully disagree that OSHA’s analysis captures all of those costs.  Upon adoption of an update to the HCS, construction industry employers will incur costs in the following categories:  1) management familiarization and other management-related costs; and 2) costs associated with training employees.  Even though construction industry employers generally do not manufacture chemicals, as end users of these products employers in the construction industry will need to read, understand, and familiarize themselves with the updated HCS; make appropriate changes to hazard communication programs; revise training programs and provide new training to employees on information contained on warning labels.  While we appreciate that the basic framework will stay the same under the updated HCS, significant costs go into familiarization, training, and compliance efforts for any change, no matter how minor.”