Sen. Enzi Presses OSHA on Material Safety Data Sheets

July 17, 2003
The chairman of the Senate's OSHA oversight subcommittee, Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., has joined FIGHT Project founder Ron Hayes in asking that OSHA increase the reliability and accessibility of material safety data sheets (MSDSs).

Chemical workers are too often unaware of the hazards they face because of inaccurate, unavailable, or unintelligible MSDSs, according to Hayes, who launched his campaign to address the problem last year with a letter to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.

Chao wrote to Hayes on Dec. 17, 2002 that she had asked OSHA Administrator John Henshaw to review OSHA's hazard communication requirements and to recommend possible changes.

In a June 27 letter to Henshaw, Enzi called upon the agency to report within 60 days its findings and recommendations, including "actions OSHA has taken, and plans to take, to increase MSDS reliability and accessibility."

When Hayes raised the issue at the July 9-10 meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, Henshaw admitted that MSDSs "need to be improved."

Henshaw explained that OSHA is developing guidance and training documents that soon will be posted on the agency's Web site, and that OSHA is examining other options.

In a July 5 letter to Henshaw, Hayes recommended three specific actions OSHA should take to improve MSDSs:

  • Issue an alert on the OSHA Web page about the informational problems of MSDSs;
  • Direct that all OSHA's compliance assistance consultants in the agency's 67 field offices conduct an 'inservice' about the problems surrounding MSDSs;
  • Release a directive to all compliance officers to examine MSDSs during inspections and to educate employers on keeping the sheets accurate and up to date.

"These are suggestions that are cost-effective, that we can do immediately, because they won't do anything unless you push them," explained Hayes in an interview. "They can't say this will cost too much."

An OSHA spokesperson said "responses are being drafted" to the letters from Hayes and Enzi.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!