Beyond GHS: What’s Next for Chemical Labeling?

by Greg Wimble, on October 7, 2016

lp-GHS-2016-chemical_square_300x300.pngLast week’s Fall meeting of the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication (SCHC) in Arlington, VA, revealed that even with OSHA’s GHS deadlines behind them, chemical professionals face ongoing labeling challenges. This small, intimate gathering of SCHC members and sponsors continues to be one of the most productive, content-rich events in the industry, providing valuable updates on evolving regulations, while also allowing attendees to network and discuss specific business needs with their peers.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the meeting…

Consolidation “top of mind” – Many of the companies we spoke to are fully aware of the value of standardizing on an integrated Enterprise Labeling Solution; the key is bringing their disparate systems together to support this type of solution. A good number have SAP and are exploring ways to consolidate regulatory, MSDS/SDS authoring, and other applications into one unified workflow. As a certified integration partner with SAP, Loftware can certainly help—as we’ve worked with leading chemical companies to integrate labeling data with trusted sources (SAP, MES, SDS, etc.) and to offer a centralized design, review and approval process. With more and more chemical companies looking for gains in supply chain efficiency—while still complying with regulatory guidelines—one of the best places to start is with Enterprise Labeling.

EPA’s expanding role – Speaking of regulations, there was an important update on the recent reform to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which empowers the EPA with new authority to prioritize, review, and regulate existing chemical substances. Under the old law, thousands of chemicals in existence since 1976 were considered in compliance, without any requirement or schedule for EPA to review them for safety. Now the EPA is required to systematically evaluate chemicals on a specific and enforceable schedule. More details to come, but you can be certain that the TSCA will have an impact on how these chemicals are labeled going forward.

Prop 65 changes, too – We also learned that there are impending changes at the state level, as California’s Prop 65 will require chemical companies to make adjustments to their labeling, such as the use of a new color warning symbol where applicable. The law is complicated, as shared by a legal expert at the meeting, and will require regulatory teams to review details to make sure they continue to comply with this longstanding, groundbreaking regulation for chemical labeling.

GHS getting more global – Yes, GHS requirements here in the US were a significant hurdle for many companies, but now the focus turns to international labeling as both Canada and Australia have upcoming deadlines for their own GHS standards, starting in January 2017. Based on the presentations we heard, the guidelines for the safe production, transport, handling and disposal of chemical materials are similar to OSHA’s—requiring specific GHS label elements—but there are distinctions that labelers need to pay attention to.

It was a pleasure to speak with attendees representing some of the largest chemical companies in the world. Certainly it’s not going to get any easier as they balance compliance with ongoing demands to improve supply chain efficiency. That’s where a tightly integrated Enterprise Labeling Solution can deliver significant gains.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your specific chemical labeling challenges, including what you need to upgrade your existing GHS labeling system. In the meantime, I invite you to check out our recent white paper on SAP integration and learn how this critical aspect of labeling enables you to more quickly adapt to changing regulatory and customer requirements, while driving measurable results in reduced costs, increased productivity, and faster time to market.

Download SAP Paper Now!