Because communication is believed to be the primary (if not sole) form of protecting workers, or at least providing them with knowledge about chemicals they are being exposed to (Traynor, 2012), the section of 29 CFR 1926 subpart D relating to hazardous chemical communication is a significant place to focus the attention of a study. Further, this section of OSHA’s code is due for reconsideration, since the regulation is over thirty years old. So much in the world of business has changed since its writing, making the law an important one on which to focus.
The article itself makes its significance clear immediately by quoting David Michaels, the assistant secretary for Labor and Occupational Safety and Health, as saying that the changes implemented will “…improve chemical hazard protection programs across the country” (Traynor, 2012). Since the changes OSHA has implemented “…conform to the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals” (Traynor, 2012), sharing pharmaceuticals and other products in overseas markets becomes easier. Further, because the communication standard requires pharmaceutical companies to determine whether their products could be hazardous to workers during normal use presently or in the near future, global workplace communication and behavior-based safety becomes more likely (Traynor, 2012).
Besides universalizing chemical names and classification systems, the changes in the OSHA standards of communication have been revised to become clearer, adding to the article’s relevance (see Bubba Materials case study). Traynor (2012) quotes the Department of Labor Secretary who claims the revised rules will deliver hazardous chemical information more “simply, clearly, and effectively” than previously. While the law previously stated that employees have a right to “know” the chemicals to which they are being exposed at work, the revision states that they have the right to “understand” (Traynor, 2012). Although this is but a one-word change in that section, it implies more responsibility on the employer to not just list the chemicals present in a workplace, but also to ensure that an employee understands what the chemical is and the effects the chemical will have.
Finally, if the explanation of the rule changes and its effects are not enough to prove relevance of the article, Traynor (2012) puts the relevance into hard numbers. The new rule standards, once put into effect, should prevent more than “500 injuries and 43 deaths and lead to $475 million” in worker productivity a year. If that number of prevented injuries and deaths, in addition to increased productivity, are not relevant, it is difficult to imagine what would be.
In an article describing and analyzing a new law, much of how quality is judged depends on the sources used to perform the judgment of the likely effects. Because Traynor (2012) quotes the assistant secretary for Labor and Occupational Safety and Health, the Department of Labor Secretary, and the Joint Commission overseeing the OSHA revisions, the article instantly exudes legitimacy. Each quotation from the expert in the field of labor laws is quoted verbatim, so as to present a clear view of their own thoughts, rather than a paraphrased statement of their thoughts by the author. Using direct quotes from established experts lends credibility to the article and raises believability in the reader.
Besides the sources utilized in explaining what changes a law has undergone and why they matter, the organization of a particular article can assist or hinder a reader in trying to understand an article’s significance. Traynor guides the reader from the opening topic of the article through what each change is and means to industry and labor. For example, aside from using a chronological “Timeline” heading to guide the reader from the opening changes in the process to the end results, there are also two other headings indicating what is important in the law’s changes: “The right to understand” and “OSHA’s expectations” (Traynor, 2012, p.819). Each heading provides a roadmap of what will be discussed, as well as the highlighted points of what a reader should take away from the reading in which they are involved.
Finally, besides clear organization and qualified sources, one of the keys to a quality article is with the author’s ability to write clearly and support their topics. Traynor proves her ability to write clearly by using short, declarative sentences that do not obscure the meaning of her words. “The Joint Commission requires accredited organization to maintain an inventory of hazardous materials and wastes found in the workplace, including consumer products that may pose a risk to workers” (Traynor, 2012, p.823) is a good example of how the sentence is just long enough to provide context for the reader, while also using precise words to state what is needed to understand what was done and why. Additionally, Traynor proves her ability to support her statements about the changes to OSHA’s law when she follows the sentence, “OSHA states that the need for a product to conform to label requirements will be different throughout the product’s life cycle” with “For example, hazard communication requirements do not apply to pharmaceuticals at the point of consumption by a patient” (2012). The exception to the need to conform to label requirements will be different is quickly given a real-life example to educate the reader.
Since Traynor’s (2012) article concerns the health and productivity of an entire nation’s workforce, the article is relevant. Because the article is not only well-supported, but also well-organized, and clearly written, the article is of high quality. Although relatively few Americans own a business or supervise employees, almost all Americans have a place at which to work. As such, understanding the risks and the rewards of that work seems of paramount importance.
Traynor, K. (2012). OSHA revises hazard communication standard. American Journal of Health System Pharmacy, 69(10), 818-825.