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Environment, Health, And Safety Issues In the Year Ahead

(April 2009) posted on Mon Jun 01, 2009

Greenhouse-gas emissions, chemical regulations, labeling and reporting standards, and sustainability are among the issues that will have an impact on our industry in 2009. This overview discusses how these areas of concern will affect specialty printing companies.

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By Marcia Y. Kinter

In 2006, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to revise the Hazard Communication Standard and to align this standard with the requirements found in the GHS. There are differences in the labeling requirements as well as the format for Material Safety Data Sheets. It is anticipated that OSHA will require the use of the 16-section MSDS format. Most chemical manufactures in the United States have adopted the use of this format. Health Canada also seeks to implement the GHS program, and is awaiting action on the part of the United States before moving forward.

Ergonomics regulations continue to garner interest within the labor community. While prohibited from releasing the ergonomic regulation that was rescinded under the Bush Administration, it is possible that a new proposal will be released. Michigan is currently working on adopting an ergonomic regulation and, if passed, will join California as a state with its own ergonomic regulation.

Michigan’s new ergonomic standard would require ergonomics training for all employees covering occupational risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders, symptoms, and reporting procedures. Under the proposed rule, employers would also be responsible for involving employees; assessing risk factors; and eliminating, reducing or controlling ergonomic hazards “where economically and technically feasible.” And, employ-ers with an existing “effective ergonomic program” would be judged to be in prior compliance with the training and assessment/response requirements.


The final word—sustainability

Even with our current economic woes, the trend towards sustainability continues. The Obama Administration has made sustainability a key watchword. Sustainability continues to gain momentum. In 2009, customers are expected to continue asking imagers to report on their efforts to become more sustainable and, most importantly, to provide real evidence to back up efforts.

Increasingly, customers are strategically using the supply chain to help meet their core business values. And this practice provides more leverage in tying social and environmental issues into the supply chain relationship. Ideally, major customers seek to get no more than 25-40% of the output from an individual subcontractor. This is an increasingly common trend as these customers do not want a factory to be totally dependent on the production of their product.

To help the imager meet this challenge head on, the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership was launched in August 2008. Already, eight printers have achieved certification, and the numbers are growing. Ultimately, what will distinguish one company from another are core business values. Competitive companies of the future will discover the means to fundamentally align and embed their core values into their business strategy, including the values that society expects them to hold. SGP provides the means to reach this goal.

While most attention today is focused on the economic climate and a new president in the White House, environmental, health, and safety matters will continue to see significant activity throughout the year. These issues will bring challenges to specialty imaging companies, but for those that that remain aware of and active in addressing the challenges, the future will also bring opportunity.


Marcia Y. Kinter

Marcia Y. Kinter is vice president for government and business information with SGIA. She represents association members before federal and state regulatory agencies and the US Congress on environmental, safety, labor, trade, and other issues directly impacting screen-printing and graphic-imaging businesses. Kinter is a member of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology.






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