Last month the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), made an amendment to their Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act (EPCRA). Established in 1986, the EPCRA helps communities plan for and hopefully prevent chemical emergencies.
The recent amendments to the compliance guidelines and chemical regulations became effective on the 13th of June, 2016, with companies being required to comply with the regulations and guidelines by January 1, 2018. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly referred to as OSHA, alignment with the United Nations adopted Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), will help to enhance the productivity for US businesses that deal with various hazardous chemicals and reduce the trade barriers.
Previously, the EPA contained five hazard categories: delayed health hazard, immediate health hazard, reactive, sudden release of pressure and fire. However, now that the categories are aligned with the OSHA update, four more categories have been addressed by the GHS. These hazards are: combustible dust, pyrophoric gas, simple asphyxiant, and other hazards that are not classified.
The GHS has now been implemented in 72 countries, and helps to standardize chemical compliance and labelling. However, because the GHS is not legally binding, counties must promulgate their own regulations that implement the guidelines set out by the UN.
The EPA will also be required to update their compliance reporting to include both the physical and health hazards, and will be required to update their software by January 1, 2018.