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Safety isn't a slogan, it's a way of life.

~Author unknown

OSHA's Final Rule to Protect Workers from Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica

Every year, nearly 2.3 million workers are exposed to the hazardous substance of silica in their workplace, according to OSHA. That’s why The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers.

Let’s explore the early days of safety signs to discover their true impact 

One commonly cited OSHA statistic claims that 13 work-related deaths occur every day.  Based on this shocking figure, you may have questioned the importance of safety signs, since serious injuries still occur in the workplace. 

The truth is, if safety signs were nonexistent, no one would know about potential hazards and the amount of injuries would escalate dramatically.

A world without safety signs

If you have determined that it is time to add Reflective to the list of features of your safety signs or hard hat stickers, you will want to remember the following:

There are four main versions of reflective material that are used either as they are (adhesive backed) or applied to some kind of rigid substrate.  They are: Engineering Grade Reflective, Dialectically Safe Reflective, Diamond Grade Reflective, and Hi-Intensity Prismatic Reflective.

How to choose the correct material for the application

Does this sound familiar?  You have been assigned to update the labeling in your facility. You identify a hazard with a failing, previously installed tag or sign; the environment is bad, you have grease, dust, and potential chemical spills. What do you do? You know a paper tag is not going to hold up.  Obviously, the previously installed plastic material has only lasted a few months.  

Can your company "opt-out" of the HCS/GHS updates? The short answer to this question is "no." While OSHA did receive comments that certain companies should be allowed to opt-out of complying with the revised GHS portion of the HCS, other commenter’s argued that having a multiple systems in place would undermine the implementation of the rule. OSHA agreed that multiple rules would cause confusion and that allowing even one company to deviate would affect other companies. OSHA also acknowledges that small chemical companies would incur burdens not necessarily felt by larger companies.

What exactly is required for the new GHS Label Format? The GHS elements that were added to the Hazard Communications Standard earlier this year, stipulate the Label elements. Per the new standard, appropriate GHS Label elements for a chemical will be determined by the hazard classification of that particular chemical and will include: a standardized signal word; hazard statement(s) that convey the degree of hazard; pictogram(s) that reinforce the message presented in the text; and precautionary statements that provide the information a user need to guard against injury or illness.

Is it acceptable to have Black Diamonds surrounding the images on your GHS Labels? The short answer is no. The new HCS Rule that adopted the GHS elements for labeling requires a RED Diamond shaped border around all images. And although OSHA did acknowledge that the RED Diamonds would require a bit more planning, and yes “money”, the counter side of that is that the visibility will be greatly increased. Red is a much more noticeable color which will draw the eye of a user to the hazards.