HazCom 2012 is now in full effect here in the US with OSHA deadlines come and gone cleaning companies as well as manufacturers and suppliers are now scrambling to ensure full compliance.
With the last major sweeping deadline just past on June 1st, 2015, manufacturers are new required to have their labeling and training completely in line with the new GHS standards. This has required and will continue to require massive relabeling, reclassifying and restructuring of existing programs and processes. Think of it like changing to an entire industry to a new language.
What are some of the changes?
One of the most significant changes is labeling. With the goal being to adopt a global standard for labeling to include use of pictograms, design, colors, warnings and ingredients this mean the industry has pretty much had to re-write everything from the ground up.
Consumers can expect more explicit warnings on labels that under the previous labeling would have been less conspicuous. This is design to alert consumers of the real risks associated with even minute quantities of harmful chemicals.
Additionally much more rigorous training will be required by OSHA for those who use and are exposed to these chemicals in performing their work. The burden put on companies as a result has been massive. All new hires will be required to have substantially more training that former employees would have needed to be compliant.
Since the new labeling has been rolling out by early adopter manufacturers already OSHA wants employees to be familiar with the new labeling immediately, though the deadline for compliance isn’t until June 2016.
How it’s affecting cleaning companies
Though many cleaning companies have made vast efforts to remove cleaning products from their daily operations in order to become eco-friendly they still rely on a few to provide their clients with the best service possible. As such this means updating hazard communication programs, new hire orientation programs and other certifications. In a recent interview regarding their eco-friendly carpet cleaning services, Jesse, Owner of Cleaning Heroes in Medford Oregon, said “This is a powerful change that has been much needed in the industry for decades. Dry cleaners of yesteryear lived an average of just 50 years. This industry hasn’t been held responsible enough for the amount of power we hold with the number of cleaning products we use and how they affect us, our staff and our clients. This amount of work to get our clients informed as well as our staff is substantial, but ideally we’ll all benefit from a more transparent process”.
Jesse also mentioned later in our conversation that “Compliance is a weakness of many cleaning companies” and that “many consumers are very unaware of what they are being exposed to”. His company works hard to educate and is glad that many providers are helping companies like Cleaning Heroes with amazing training resources. He feels this might be the largest challenge ahead to ensure a smooth transition and ensure clients are fully informed.