OSHA’s Expected Impact on Laboratory Operations in 2015

Chemical Regulations, Lab Safety

OSHA regulations need to be met to ensure continual laboratory operations
Laboratory managers need to be concerned about how trends with OSHA regulations will affect laboratory operations.
Image Source: James Gathany for CDC via Wikimedia Commons

Unless you work on a family-owned farm, chances are that you have had to deal with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Since OSHA’s jurisdiction extends to nearly every type of work environment within the United States, the regulations they pass have an impact on all businesses, including laboratories.

Although the year has just begun, OSHA appears to be making some bold regulatory moves that will impact laboratory operations. And since OSHA fines appear to be on the rise, laboratories may want to ensure that they are aware of deadlines and compliance-related trends in order to avoid these fines. To help, we have provided a list of five trends with which laboratories should become familiar in 2015:

  • Revised Injury and Illness Reporting Rules – Beginning January 1, OSHA reporting rules were changed to provide more granularity regarding the details of workplace injuries. For example, the agency would like to be informed within eight hours of an incident if a single employee was hospitalized, or if an amputation or eye loss occurred. Prior to this year, the agency only required reports when three or more employees were hospitalized at the same time, and the amputation or eye reporting rules did not exist.
  • Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals – As part of OSHA’s revised Hazard Communication Standard, the agency is requiring that all chemical labels be updated to the new globally harmonized labeling standard by June 1, 2015. This has a particular impact on laboratories because of the large number of chemical containers typically used in a lab. The best way to ensure compliance is to track chemicals using a chemical management system. This ensures that the appropriate label is attached when a chemical arrives at the lab and the safety data sheets are available to employees for review.
  • Inspections Based On Employee Complaints – Surprisingly, the number of on-site inspections conducted by the agency each year appears to be in decline, probably due to tighter budget restrictions. However, of the inspections that are being performed, more of them are instigated because of an employee complaint. According to recent statistics, 27% of OSHA audits conducted in 2014 were due to employee reported complaints, compared to only 20% the previous year.
  • Severe Violator Enforcement Program – Another trend is OSHAs focus on tracking and verifying severe violators. These are employers that, according to the organization, have shown an indifference to worker safety through flagrant or constant flouting of rules. Approximately 400 companies are currently on the severe violator list, a 25% increase over last year. These companies can expect to receive additional scrutiny from the organization throughout the year.
  • Additional Chemical Standards – This year, OSHA is expected to make efforts toward updating its chemical standards. Part of this update will include a renewed emphasis on permissible chemical exposure limits. However, due to the controversial nature of these standards, an official update will probably not be issued for a few more years.

Paying attention to the list above will help laboratory managers navigate OSHA regulations for the first half of the year. Check back with this blog later in the year for updates on how OSHA will be trending in the second half of the year.

For more information on BIOVIA CISPro and how it can help laboratories navigate OSHA chemical labeling standards, please visit our website today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *