One of the most difficult issues for fragrance companies like mine, and for a number of other industries, is the treatment of small or sample sized products under the Hazard Communication Standard. While other jurisdictions like Canada and the European Union allowed for special accommodation for small bottles, OSHA has not allowed for an exemption. The result is a new, arduous, costly and incredibly burdensome process that has not increased safety and has hindered commerce.
In creating a fragrance for a customer, such as a honeysuckle scent for a hand lotion, my company may ship a batch of 2-5 samples of honeysuckle fragrances to a potential customer. Each fragrance will be unique and contain different ingredients.
Unlike many industries that ship samples of chemical products in large containers, the fragrance industry typically deals in extremely small quantities. For example, the sample fragrances that are shipped generally measure 0.5 ounces and are contained in small vials.
Now, under the new HazCom regulation, rather than requiring a safety data sheet on only those products purchased, each individual sample, no matter how small, must include a complex label and safety data sheet in order to comply with GHS.
On average, my company sends out 10,000 samples per year, each of them a unique mixture of ingredients. And now, under the new regulation, on an annual basis we need to create 10,000 unique safety data sheets and extremely large, complex labels, that must be "attached", for even half ounce samples of fragrances.
From a practical standpoint, it is very difficult to include the label and all of its required GHS elements on the container so that it is readable. Pharmaceuticals require much less labeling on the bottles and much less is communicated on the information inserts!
The goal of OSHA regulations should be to make it easy for employees to access safety knowledge in the workplace. These complex labels and complex safety data sheets do not provide the quick access to information that workers need. They create information overload and desensitize workers to actual hazard communication.
We encourage OSHA to reconsider their treatment of small packages and, like other international bodies, to allow for reduced labeling elements on small bottles. Canada, for example, allows products packaged in small volume containers with a capacity of less than 100mL an exemption from complex precautionary statements on labels. We would be supportive of a similar approach by OSHA.