The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized amendments to its requirements for Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) to better protect the health of workers. SNURs can be used to require notice to EPA before chemical substances and mixtures are used in new ways that might create concerns. Today’s amendment strengthens requirements that ensure workers have access to clear and consistent information about the risks they may face from toxic substances.
The amendments to 40 CFR Part 721 finalized today were first proposed in July 2016. Efforts to finalize the rule stalled during the previous Administration and were re-initiated last year as a part of ongoing efforts to implement policies and regulations that better align EPA’s new chemicals program with the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
These amendments are intended to protect the health of workers and include:
- The alignment of EPA’s rules for toxic substances’ labels with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) rules for safety data sheets and other materials, ensuring that hazard statements and precautionary statements are used consistently throughout hazard communications.
- Provisions to strengthen EPA’s requirements that companies educate workers on risks and on the effective use of any required personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Provisions that make it easy for EPA to issue new chemical SNURs that require manufacturers to notify EPA if they intend to use a substance without considering and implementing engineering controls where feasible. Upon receipt of a notice, EPA will then review the use to determine the potential for unreasonable risks to human health and the environment and ensure any needed protections are put in place before that use can commence. According to OSHA, engineering and administrative controls are potentially more effective and protective than PPE, and following a hierarchical approach to worker safety generally leads to the implementation of inherently safer systems.
In response to comments received during the 2016 comment period, EPA determined that the amendments would apply only to SNURs issued after this rule is finalized, rather than affecting previously issued SNURs. All other amendments are being finalized as proposed.
To Find Out More, Visit the U.S. EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention