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How GHS HazCom Affects Your EPCRA Responsibilities

Posted on 7/14/2015 by Anthony Cardno

Under Section 311 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), facilities subject to OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard must submit copies of Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) to Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs), State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs), and local fire departments. The Environmental Protection Agency has promulgated rules in 40 CFR 370 that cover both initial and revised submissions of SDSs to those agencies.

EPCRA SDS Submission Requirements

Per 40 CFR 370.33(a), a copy of the SDS must be initially submitted within three months of the facility first being required to prepare or have the SDS for a chemical or within three months of a chemical becoming present on site in an amount exceeding the appropriate threshold. The thresholds are based on how much of each chemical the facility has on site at any one time. They are as follows:
  • ≥10,000 lbs. for any hazardous chemical (as defined by OSHA at 29 CFR 1910.1200); or
  • ≥500 lbs or ≥ the chemical's threshold planning quantity, whichever is lower, for any extremely hazardous substance (as listed by the EPA at 40 CFR 355, Appendix A).
GHS/EPCRA: EPCRA reporting under GHS hazcom

Per 40 CFR 370.33(b), facilities that have already submitted an SDS to local and State authorities must also submit a revised SDS within three months after discovery of significant new information about the chemical for which the SDS was submitted.

GHS Changes to Safety Data Sheets

The question is: Do changes to the SDS under OSHA's Global Harmonization System (GHS) Rule count as "significant new information"?

The EPA's answer: it depends.

The GHS rule requires chemical manufacturers and importers to re-evaluate chemicals in light of newly adopted international criteria, re-classify those chemicals as necessary, and then provide that information to users via revised SDSs. But the GHS rules also changed the format of the SDSs, creating a specific and uniform 16 sections to be filled out. Manufacturers and importers are also required to send these modified SDSs to users, even if the materials covered were not re-classified. The deadline for submission of revised/modified SDSs to users was June 1, 2015.

What If GHS Changed the Chemical Classification?

If the classification of the hazardous chemical has changed based on the GHS new criteria, EPA considers the re-classification to be "significant new information." If the facility has previously submitted an SDS for that chemical to its LEPC, SERC, and fire department, then a revised SDS must be submitted to those same agencies within three months of the facility receiving the SDS from the manufacturer/importer.

However, if the facility receives an SDS that has simply been modified to fit the new 16-section format with no changes to the chemical's classification, EPA suggests the facility check with its State agency for guidance, as EPCRA allows states flexibility in implementation.

EPA's clarification of this issue can be found here.

Expert HazCom and EPA Regulations Training

At the Complete Environmental Regulations Workshop, EHS professionals collaborate, share best practices, and learn what to report, collect, and keep on file to comply with EPA's major air, water, and chemical programs. From reporting and permitting under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act to chemical management and reporting under TSCA, FIFRA, EPCRA, and more, you will leave the workshop ready to navigate the EPA regulations that affect your facility with confidence.

Is your facility adjusting to the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for workplace hazard communication? Make sure you know how to proceed now that the June 1, 2015 deadline has passed. Attend the live, instructor-led GHS Compliance Webinar on July 23, from 1-3 PM ET.

Tags: EPCRA, GHS, HazCom, reporting and recordkeeping, Safety Data Sheets

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