Partner Content: HBW Insight
Friday, October 11, 2019
by: Ryan Nelson

Section: Articles

Manufacturers or importers of hazardous chemicals used in cosmetics must post material safety data sheets online by July 1, 2020, under a new California law intended to promote awareness and safe practices among salon workers.

AB 647 dictates that SDS must appear on brand websites or other web pages under a commonly known name so that they are generally accessible to the public, and they must be available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean, languages prominently spoken by salon professionals in California.

Introduced in February by Assemblymember Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, the bill received Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature on 20 September after passing the Assembly and Senate in May and September, respectively, with just a single vote against the measure.

The legislation appears to have faced no formal opposition, but industry did raise questions about AB 647’s purpose and expressed concerns that it could cause confusion.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires chemical manufacturers, distributors or importers to provide SDS for hazard chemicals to downstream users to communicate information about the chemicals’ properties and risk management.

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health imposes similar mandates on companies under its own Health Communication Standard, and the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to make information about hazardous chemicals available to employees, including by providing access to SDS upon request.

According to the Chemical Industry Council of California, required workplace warnings about chemical hazards already must be in languages suited to worksite under federal and California regulations.

“It is therefore unclear what specifically is to be gained by mandating internet posting of safety data sheet information. Indeed such posting may end up being confusing, to the degree that it is not geared to the specifics of the chemicals used in a given worksite." the group said in comments to California lawmakers.

SDS on company websites also could be misunderstood by consumers.

“Workplace exposure potential will almost always be different in type, frequency, intensity and duration than in normal consumer use of products containing any given chemical,” CICC noted.

In a statement included in California Senate analysis, AB 674’s author Kalra notes, “Salon professionals, many of whom are immigrants and women of color, handle cosmetic and disinfectant products on a daily basis and for long hours. … AB 647 would give workers access to important information, empowering them to take control of their health by becoming educated in the potential health hazards and allowing them to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.”

Kalra also authored AB 2775, legislation enacted in California in 2018 to require ingredient labeling on professional-use cosmetics, which are not subject to the same ingredient-labeling requirements as other cosmetics under federal regulations. The requirement takes effect July 1, 2020.  (Also see "California’s Professional Cosmetic Labeling Bill Passes Unopposed" - HBW Insight, 7 Sep, 2018.)