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How Health, Safety, and Environmental Issues Will Shape the Future of Your Business

(April 2008) posted on Thu Apr 03, 2008

European initiatives and a push for greener manufacturing by multinational corporations are factors that are beginning to have an impact on specialty printing companies in the US. Learn what the pressure to standardize health and safety regulations and adopt sustainable business-operation methods means for your company.

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By Marcia Y. Kinter

As stated, the GHS itself is not a regulation. The harmonized elements of the GHS may be seen as a collection of building blocks from which a country can form a regulatory approach. Individual countries are free to determine which of the elements within the GHS framework to adopt. It is important to recognize that the GHS system is not intended to harmonize risk assessment procedures or risk management decisions (e.g., permissive exposure limits), which generally require some risk assessment in addition to hazard classification.

OSHA is in the process of adopting the GHS system. The Agency did issue a proposal, comments were offered, and now the Agency is considering and deliberating its next step. Based on discussions, it appears likely that the Agency will adopt the recommended 16-section MSDS format, based on the ANSI standard. It appears likely that OSHA will issue its final rule by the end of this calendar year.

However, as mentioned in the opening paragraphs, facilities, especially those providing substances requiring MSDSs, cannot afford to focus solely on US actions. Canada, as well as the European Union may indeed act sooner than the United States on this issue.


EU Activity

Actions taken by the European Union (EU) impacting facilities here in the States continue. Last year, we saw the implementation of the trade directive, Restriction of Hazardous Substances, and its companion environmental directive, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, become effective in the European Union. This year, after much debate, the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH) regulation enters into force.

REACH is a new European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use (EC 1907/2006). The new law entered into force on June 1, 2007, and the first registration deadline is June 2008. However, the regulation’s effective dates are based on tonnage of che-micals produced, so it behooves the chemical manufacturer who exports to the EU to determine the registration time frames.

The aim of REACH is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances. At the same time, innovative capability and competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry should be enhanced. The benefits of the REACH system will come gradually, as more and more substances are phased into REACH.


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