AIHA Supports MSDS Update Efforts

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) sent a letter to Sen. Michael Enzi, chairman of the Senate Employment, Safety, and Training Subcommittee, in support of his efforts to see that material safety data sheets (MSDS) are properly kept up to date.

MSDS, which are required under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard, are essential tools in the protection of employees exposed to chemical hazards in the workplace. In December 2002, in response to several reports that suggested that a substantial proportion of MSDS may have serious deficiencies, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao asked OSHA to review its rules for the data sheets and determine if changes were necessary. Sen. Enzi recently sent a letter to OSHA Administrator John Henshaw requesting a report from the agency on its findings and recommendations as a result of the investigation.

"AIHA commends Sen. Enzi's continuing interest in worker health and safety," said AIHA President Thomas G. Grumbles, CIH. "AIHA members serve on the front lines of occupational health and safety, and therefore have a strong interest in this issue." In addition, members of several of AIHA's expert technical committees have extensive experience and direct involvement with technical and policy issues regarding material safety data sheets.

The association strongly supports Enzi's request for OSHA to review the status of current requirements, bearing in mind that existing regulations can be modified, but it will be difficult to regulate better material safety data sheets into existence. Also, if changes are to be considered for the OSHA requirements, AIHA recommends that these changes be made in full recognition of the MSDS guidelines being developed as part of the Global Harmonized System for hazard communication.

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