Heritage

Chair:  Sharen Breyer
Board Liaison: Jennifer Mahoney
Serve as repository of SCHC historical information (prior SCHC events, evolution of SCHC activities, SCHC member participation in an activity).

View the historical listing of meeting dates/locations 

Birth of a Society—Chapter 1 of the SCHC Story

In celebration of SCHC’s 40th Anniversary (in 2019), we will be sharing SCHC’s history and how we evolved to be an important part of today’s global economic and scientific network. On April 25-26 of 1979, about 40 members and associates of the former Labels and Precautionary Information Committee (LAPI) of the Manufacturing Chemists Association (MCA) met at the Ramada Inn in Essington, PA to establish a framework for what was to be called the American Conference on Chemical Labeling (ACCL), a name suggested by Dr. Boyd Schaeffer from American Cyanimide Company. OSHA had been established in 1970, and the first several years were devoted to workplace safety standards and the documentation and prevention of accidents and injuries. But in 1977, OSHA began to look at what was being called “hazard communication” - rules and guidelines for product labels, workplace placards and signs, Material Safety Data Sheets, Technical Data Sheets, product bulletins and any other ways of transferring important safety information from chemical product manufacturers to downstream users. EPA, state agencies, and labor unions were all interested in this, too, so a forum for the industry professionals working in this arena were urgently needed. The ACCL, at this point, was not incorporated. It had no official address. It had no legal counsel. If it called regular meetings, it risked violating federal Anti-Trust laws. To avoid the potential conflict, David Zoll, the legal counsel for the now renamed Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA), volunteered to assign a CMA staff member to attend all ACCL meetings with the stipulation that those meetings would have to be held in Washington, D.C, And so—the second meeting of the newly minted American Conference on Chemical Labeling was held at the Hotel Washington, Washington, D.C., September 6-7, 1979, with independent labeling consultant and Temporary Chairman Ralph Troupe (ex-J.T. Baker) and Temporary Vice-Chair Robert H. Dewey (IMC Chemical Group) presiding.

Growth and Growing Pains – Chapter 2 of the SCHC Story

As part of our series celebrating SCHC’s 40-year history, this chapter covers the politics and solutions that manufacturers and regulatory agencies struggled with after an industry-changing report was released in 1965. The American Conference on Chemical Labeling, or ACCL, was formed in 1979 specifically to discuss and address label-related issues in the chemical industry, and there was A LOT to discuss. The U.S. Public Health Service had issued a report in 1965 finding that a new chemical entered the U.S. workplace every 20 minutes, and there was growing evidence of strong links between cancer and the workplace. OSHA began addressing those concerns quickly after it was established by publishing standards covering known carcinogens like asbestos, lead and coke oven emissions. These actions were welcomed by the labor unions and occupational medicine practitioners. In 1976, OSHA established a joint coordinating committee with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for private-public sector voluntary standards activities that would affect safety and health in the workplace, and an ANSI committee on chemical labeling was formed in 1979. Things were moving quickly! However, this flurry of regulatory activity also generated quite a backlash from business and industry, and several attempts were made to weaken or repeal these activities and cut the budgets of the federal agencies involved. Many members of Congress were certain that this “over-regulation” of the chemical industry would stifle industrial growth, hamper innovation and cut profitability.

Despite the backlash, OSHA pressed on and published the 1983 Hazard Communication Standard that required employers to implement an information and training program to educate and protect workers from the effects of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. This rapidly developing new regulatory landscape made the fledgling ACCL a welcome and popular forum for industry professionals. Adding to the appeal was that the ACCL had been founded as an independent organization without any specific ties to the chemical industry in general, or company in particular. Membership in the ACCL was open to any and all interested and/or involved in this new field of chemical hazard communication, and the group grew rapidly. But that growth began to be problematic, as many of the ACCL members were NOT members of the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA), so the existing arrangement for CMA staff support for the labeling group was becoming uncomfortably strained. It was clear that it was time to explore the option of a complete separation from the CMA. On March 5, 1982, the ACCL became officially incorporated in the District of Columbia with Charles J. O’Connor and A. Thayer Talcott as the incorporators. Washington D.C. attorney and ACCL member John E. Gillick, Esq. facilitated the incorporation. By-Laws were drawn up and adopted, a Board of Directors was elected, and the American Conference on Chemical Labeling, with G. Robert Sido as Chairman and James J. Trexel as President became a free-standing and self-supporting organization and began to chart its own course.