Chemical regulatory documents and associated materials are typically only required to be in the official language(s) of the ruling jurisdiction in order to be compliant, but it can be beneficial to translate these documents into other languages as well, especially if a large population of people in a localized area do not speak the region’s official language as their first language. Translating documents into additional languages is usually done on a voluntary basis, but some jurisdictions have started introducing regulations that require certain documents to appear in more than just the official language.
For example, the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative found that many nail salon employees do not speak English as their first language, so hazard warnings that were only appearing in English were not effectively communicating the potential hazards to the workers. As a result, California’s Assembly Bill No. 647 (AB-647) came into force July 1, 2020 and requires that safety data sheets (SDSs) for cosmetic products and disinfectants used in nail salons, and which contain hazardous products per the California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 339, be available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean in addition to English.
Who Does This Apply To?
Technical translations can be done for a variety of documentation including technical data sheets, marketing materials, employee handbooks, corporate documents, and website content. Official documents like SDSs and chemical labels can also be translated to serve as supplemental information to the official language documents.
Is This Regulation Mandatory?
At minimum, documentation must be provided in the official language(s) of the region and any other languages specified by other regulations in the jurisdiction. Wherever additional translations are provided, the translations should maintain the intent and integrity of the original document to ensure that the severity of the hazard and other crucial instructions are not misinterpreted. For example, a translated document should not indicate “Caution” when the original language states “Danger”, as it does not communicate the same level of urgency.
What are the risks if a company chooses not to comply?
Manufacturers (and/or the distributor, if the product is imported) are typically responsible for the content of their SDSs and workplace/retail labels, and sometimes website content and marketing materials depending on the product type. These materials should be verified as compliant with the official language requirements of the region before attempting additional translations. Products that are not compliant with language requirements for the region may be denied importation or be subject to fines, such as with Québec’s Charter of the French Language. Employers who use translated signage and other documentation should ensure their translations are accurate to avoid accidental injury or illness.
How Can Nexreg Ensure Your Compliance?
Nexreg can provide translations in up to 120 languages. We have a statement library database for commonly used first aid and chemical handling instructions and we can also acquire translations of specific statements upon request. To help ensure accuracy and compliance, when applicable, these expert translations are provided by native speakers who specialize in industry-specific fields and are located around the world.
Nexreg does not require the initial document to be in the English language. If, for example, the current document is in French and needs to be translated to Spanish, then our translators can handle this. We can also translate documents from another language into English if required—ie if a manufacturer provides a letter in Chinese and your company needs it translated to English for internal reference.
If you require compliance services, such as an SDS or label review, then Nexreg can generate English language documents first so your company can review and confirm the information before any translations begin. If you only require a direct translation of current company documents, then our translators will complete a word for word translation, including maintaining the original document format if preferred.
For more information about translations specific to SDSs, click here.