California Proposition 65 Impact on SDS & Product Labels

The Backstory

As you’re no doubt aware, California’s Proposition 65 (Cal P65) regulation underwent a major overhaul this year, which took effect this past August. Now some three months after the mandatory compliance date, let’s briefly review the impact to your Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and product labels.

What’s Changing

The most prominent effects of the recent Cal P65 updates on SDS and labels, are, as you might guess, those changes that directly impact the label warnings, that is, the newly required pictograms and warning statements.

Implications

SDS content in the US is governed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and while the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) does not require information from Cal P65 to be present in the SDS (or on the OSHA hazard label for that matter), many organizations choose to include the Cal P65 label elements in the SDS as a matter of policy, often as part of Section 15’s regulatory data. Therefore, the new Cal P65 label requirements may indeed impact the content of your SDS, especially if you or your customers are in California. Prior to August 2018, no pictogram requirement existed, and the warning language for carcinogens and reproductive toxicants was less descriptive. If the now-defunct pre-August 2018 warning language is still present on your SDS, then this information should be updated to the most current statements and elements, in order to mitigate risk in the event of Cal P65 enforcement. Remember: Cal P65 is enforced through private litigation—yep, that’s lawsuit in layman’s’ terms—and that means even your SDS could be examined as part of the overall body of evidence used to determine compliance with the regulation; conflicting information, even if added only as a matter of policy, rather than to comply with the regulation, could be damaging to an organization’s attempt to defend against non-compliance allegations.

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