CPDA ‘Optimistic’ U.S. Regulators Will Amend Re-Labeling Rule

OSHA's re-labeling rule defeats the purpose, says Ferenc.

OSHA’s re-labeling rule defeats the purpose, says Ferenc.

Dr. Susan Ferenc, president of the Council of Producers & Distributors of Agrotechnology, is “optimistic” that U.S. regulators will provide some discretionary relief in requiring distributors to re-label certain non-pesticide agrochemical products, such as tank-mix adjuvants and plant nutrient blends, as of Dec. 1, 2015. Manually relabeling and repackaging millions of shrink-wrapped, palletized jugs and bags already in distribution is a near-impossible task that would destroy the integrity of the product shipping units, not to mention put worker safety at risk, which defeats the very purpose of the re-labeling, Ferenc maintains.

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“We do not believe that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fully grasped the sophisticated and mechanized manner in which agchem products are packaged and distributed. The protective measures utilized in the distribution sector ensure the integrity of the product shipping units. (Having to re-label) would destroy that and potentially change everything about distribution in agchem,” she told FCI at the CPDA Conference on May 6 in Milwaukee. Ferenc added that CPDA has met with OSHA in an effort to explain how non-pesticide agchem products are shipped and disseminated in the marketplace and how the relabeling of product stored in warehouses could adversely impact worker safety.

OSHA published the rule in March 2012 that amended its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to conform to the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) adopted by the United Nations. CPDA developed a possible solution and made its case to OSHA, which was halfway through its work on the response as of early March. “No news is good news,” says Ferenc.

CPDA pointed out that a possible solution could be patterned after an approach taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency when it was faced with an almost identical situation. In 2008, EPA adopted the term “released for shipment” in an amendment of the 2006 pesticide container and containment labeling rule because the terminology in the original rule, “distributed or sold,” would have prohibited the sale or distribution of any product that did not bear the new compliant label after a certain date. Individual product containers fitted with compliant labels at the time they are “released for shipment” are allowed to remain in commerce without relabeling until dissipated in the marketplace.

CPDA has urged OSHA to adopt an approach that would ameliorate the need to re-label millions of individual non-pesticide agchem products already in distribution. “This would provide an appropriate measure of relief that takes into account how these products are manufactured, stored, distributed and redistributed in the agricultural marketplace over a period of time that could span many years,” Ferenc says.