Chapter 1 - Birth of a Society

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.

Chapter 2 - Growth and Growing Pains
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.

Chapter 3 - Continued Growth and a New Name
The successful incorporation of the American Conference on Chemical Labeling as a stand-alone, non-profit professional society was announced to the membership – to loud applause! - at the May 26-27, 1981 Spring Meeting at the DuPont Plaza in Washington, D.C. Four months later at the Fall Meeting, the ACCL leadership reported a membership roster of 75 and a bank balance of $3,248.38.

Free of CMA oversight and the tether to the Washington, D.C. area for all meetings, the fledgling ACCL was free to move about the country and expand their areas of interest and involvement to other topics beyond just labels. It was decided that the Fall Meetings would remain in the D.C. area, as the proximity to the regulatory agencies was recognized as a real plus, but Spring Meetings could be held in other parts of the country, a practice that continues to this day.

Growth in membership progressed steadily during the 1980s. The organization drew interest and participation from industry, academia and the regulators, and this diversity expanded the scope of the organization as well. This evolving field of Hazard Communication was going to encompass a lot of new territory. Under the leadership of ACCL Presidents James S. Trexel, A. Thayer Talcott, Adria C. Casey and Albert J. Ignatowski, and Board of Directors Chairs G. Robert Sido and A. Thayer Talcott, membership numbers passed 100, and then 200. In 1983 the ACCL welcomed its first international speaker from Harwell Labs in the UK.

By the time the 1990s rolled around, it was becoming clear that the NAME of the organization no longer described the actual SCOPE of the organization. The 339 members of the American Conference on Chemical Labeling had a lot more to deal with than just chemical labels, and not just in America, either.

In fact, the October 1990 Fall Meeting had kicked of with a 3 hour short course on ‘The EEC Directives for Packaging and Labeling of Dangerous Substances” prior to the business meeting.

The possibility of a more descriptive and less restrictive name change had been a topic of discussion at the July 1990 Board Meeting., and so it was decided to put this proposal up for a vote by the membership – keep the ACCL name OR change it to the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication. A rather incredible 78% of the membership voted, and it was a landslide for SCHC with 90% of the vote.

The new name became effective on January 1, 1992, and it was a big hit. Membership numbers soared to 486. But 1992 was a remarkable year in our history for another reason, too. SCHC Vice President Linda Hanavan was presenting at an MSDS/Label seminar in 1991 where she met attendee Robert Warner, UK Health and Safety Executive. Bob Warner eagerly listened to Linda Hanavan describe the mission and scope of the SCHC, and then accepted an invitation to speak at the SCHC March 1992 Spring Meeting.

Following this 1992 meeting, SCHC provided Bob with copies of the Society By-Laws, organizational structure, recent meeting agendas, scope and purpose statements, training materials and even newsletters. Bob took these back to the UK and gathered an energetic group of enthusiastic and like-minded individuals who proceeded to form the Chemical Hazards Communication Society (CHCS). Linda Hanavan, now SCHC President, attended and spoke at the first meeting of the CHCS on October 26, 1994.

SO – as we at SCHC celebrate our 40th Anniversary, our sister Society in the UK is celebrating their 25th .

Chapter 4 - SCHC Tackles Training
The initial goal of what would become SCHC was to establish a forum for chemical industry professionals to meet and discuss mutual label-related problems and issues, and for keeping up-todate on new US requirements. That goal was rather quickly outgrown, as the new field of HAZARD COMMUNICATION encompassed far more than just labels and countries other than the USA.

The earliest format of SCHC meetings was a General Meeting, followed by dinner, and concluding with an after-dinner speaker on a group-appropriate topic of interest, and this met the needs of the growing Society – for awhile. But along with the incorporation of SCHC as a stand-alone group came the need for more structure and organization, so the Board of Directors established a number of Standing Committees to handle the various tasks required to grow and expand. One of those was the Professional Development Committee.

From the outset, the Professional Development Committee had a vision – to develop training courses that would eventually lead to recognition and certification as a professional in the field of Hazard Communication. Quite a goal, as there was no course of study at any university or trade school that even began to cover the topics and skills necessary for a proficient Hazard Communicator.

The very first professional development offering was a 3- hour short course held in October of 1990, right before the SCHC Fall General Meeting. “The EEC Directives for the Packaging and Labeling of Dangerous Substances” was taught by member and future SCHC President Linda Hanavan.  This was so well-received that the Professional Development Committee expanded it to a half-day course, along with developing two others that dealt with Canada’s WHMIS regulations and HM181 (DOT HazMat).

More courses followed – Computer Skills. Industrial Hygiene. Component Disclosure. Toxicology for Hazard Communication. And then the big one, a separate 2-day course that was initially cosponsored by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York “HAZCOM 101 – Introduction to Chemical Hazard Communication”.

There are now several dozen courses offered by SCHC in halfday, one day and two day formats. The opportunity for distance learning was added in 2011, and now workshops and periodic offerings such as DOT training can be delivered via webinar. Some courses, like Computer Skills and REACH, have been retired. Many more have been updated and gone paperless (HAZCOM 101 still lives!), and new courses like Risk Management and Communication, Human Factors in Hazard Communication for Occupational and Consumer Settings and Leadership and Teamwork in Hazard Communication give veteran practitioners the tools to go beyond SDS Authoring and into more managerial and leadership roles. And that early goal of the neophyte Professional Development Committee for professional recognition and certification of HazCom practitioners? That was finally met with the launch of the SDS and Label Authoring Registry Program that recognizes chemical hazard communication and environmental health professionals who specialize in authoring safety data sheets and labels.  This registry program was developed through a partnership between AIHA Registry Programs and SCHC to assure the recognition of competent professionals. To gain the Registered Professional: SDS and Label Author credential, an individual must meet certain baseline qualifications for background and training as well as demonstrate competency in the skills and knowledge defined by the program’s Body of Knowledge. This AIHA Registry Program is the first EHS Specialty Credential that provides recognition for individuals who have expertise in this area.

Visit the Professional Development Committee webpages to see a list of all courses, webinars and workshops currently available. Look up your own training record progress and even find forms for SUGGESTING a new Spring/Fall Meeting Course, a Webinar or a Distance Learning Course if you find a training need that you feel is going unmet.

Chapter 5 - Memorable Meetings
While ALL of our SCHC Meetings have been memorable in one way or another, some stand out for certain reasons, and not always by design or intent. Let’s look at two meetings that were memorable by design – one for fun and one for impact – and one meeting that was a testament to perseverance and ingenuity under very trying circumstances.

The FALL 2001 Meeting was scheduled for October 2-3 at the Arlington, Virginia Crystal Gateway Marriott, and it was going to be a very well-attended one, with about 200 people signed up for the Professional Development Courses and the Plenary Sessions. SCHC had easily met its contractual obligation for the guaranteed number of room/nights with the hotel, and only a few final details needed to be worked out. But then, on the morning of September 11th, terrorists hijacked four westbound flights and our world as we knew it changed forever.

Immediately all US airports shut down and most US companies and agencies instituted an across-the-board travel ban until further notice. More than half of those registered to attend the Fall Professional Development Courses and the Plenary Sessions cancelled their reservations, leaving SCHC with a big decision to make – cancel everything and take a HUGE financial hit with the hotel, or go forward with the meeting and make the best of it. SCHC President Michele Sullivan and BOD President Jennifer Silk, after much deliberation and input from the SCHC officers and Board Members, decided to hold the meeting, as the Society was going to be paying for a good part of it anyway due to our Marriott contract.

Many of us who attended found that our travel arrangements changed dramatically. Washington Reagan Airport was still closed on October 01, as was the Metro station that ran from the airport, past The Pentagon and on to Crystal City. (I flew into Baltimore, took a train to Washington, and then a taxi to the hotel).

Arrangements Chair Doug Eisner was able to work with the Marriott to convert our non-refundable cash payment room/night guarantee into food for the meeting attendees. This was good, as the normally bustling shop and restaurant scene in Crystal City became a virtual ghost town after 5:30 PM when the workers went home and these places shut down. The mood at the meeting was somber and subdued, the audience was small, but we carried on.

The events of September 2001 greatly influenced the Program at the Spring 2002 Meeting April 16-17 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was clear that the practical applications for SDS and Hazard Communication information and disaster preparedness were on everyone’s minds, even in Sin City.

Speakers included a presentation on “Fire and Explosion Characteristics of Powders” from Chilworth Technology, Inc., “Chemical Security Issues for Hazard Communication Professionals” and “Working Effectively with Local Emergency Planning Committees – Case Studies for Hazard Communication”.

One of those case studies was presented by Richard Brenner from the Clark County (NV) Fire Department on the 1988 ammonium perchlorate explosion at the PEPCO manufacturing site and how that changed the working relationships with industry, first responders and government. To learn more about the PEPCO explosion, go to https:// PEPCON_disaster. There are also a number of videos available on YouTube.

Chapter 6 - The President's Gavel
Without an actual physical location, and no salaried officers or Board of Directors members, SCHC doesn’t have much in the way of the traditional trappings of office that can be found in other Societies or trade associations. No imposing office. No fancy desk. No paneled Board Room. No portrait hallway. But we DO have one very special symbol of the SCHC Presidency – the gavel. It is a unique item with an interesting story.

If you recall from Chapter 1 of the SCHC Story, SCHC sprung from the Labels and Precautionary Information Committee (LAPI) of the Manufacturing Chemists Association (MCA). The LAPI Committee was the primary authority for chemical labeling in the USA, from its inception in 1944 until its official dissolution in 1978 when the MCA was transitioning and reorganizing as the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA). As part of that internal reorganization, CMA condensed 26 standing committees into 10, with the LAPI Committee disbanded and folded into the new CMA Occupational Health Committee.

The dissolution of the LAPI Committee as a discreet unit left those whose day-to-day activities were focused on chemical labeling with no forum to meet and discuss chemical labeling issues with fellow practitioners, and that vacuum lead to the April 25th, 1979 meeting at the Ramada Inn in Essington, PA and the formation of the American Conference on Chemical Labeling (ACCL). When the official announcement of Incorporation of the ACCL as a standalone entity came on May 5, 1982, the former LAPI Gavel was presented to newly elected ACCL President James J. Trexel to use for that meeting, and all subsequent meetings, of our Society.

The gavel itself has this inscription: MADE OF WOOD FROM THOS. JEFFERSON’S ESTATE MONTICELLO CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA Presented to LAPI Committee By J. Williamson Chairman 1956-58.

The box that holds the gavel has a story, too.

The gavel did not come from the LAPI with any kind of a container, and it remained that way for 14 years. When Dan Levine became SCHC President at the Spring meeting in Fort Lauderdale, FL in March of 1996, he was given the gavel by outgoing President Linda Hanavan as the traditional SCHC sign of leadership.

Concerned about getting the gavel home without damaging it, Dan carefully wrapped it in clothing before putting it into his carry-on bag. (Rumor had it that it was wrapped in underwear – FAKE NEWS!)

Upon arriving home, Dan asked his father if he could make a case to carry the gavel in so it would not be damaged in transit. Mr. Levine was a pretty handy guy, and soon found some nice pieces of wood that would make a good case. He also had some cushioning material for the inside. He hand-crafted the case so the gavel would not be accidentally damaged when carried to a meeting the next time the gavel was passed to a new president. That case - with the date and initials of the craftsman - has been used ever since.

Interestingly, the gavel and case can no longer travel with the SCHC President in his or her carry-on luggage, as it can technically be considered a WEAPON (a hammer!). Instead, it resides in the possession of SCHC Administrator Lori Chaplin, and is shipped by Lori to each Spring and Fall location with all other meeting materials. 

Chapter 7 - Where Have We Been
As we wrap up our 40th Anniversary celebration and this series of Newsletter articles on the history of our organization, let’s take a look at where we have been from a few different perspectives.

First – Geographically.  After spending the first couple years of our existence tethered to the Chemical Manufacturer’s Association and their Washington DC headquarters, breaking away as a stand-alone society allowed up to move our meetings around the country. And move we did, to twelve different states for our Spring Meetings and a welcome taste of warmer weather for we Northerners:

Second – Organizationally. The roots of SCHC actually stretch w-a-a-y back to 1944 when the Manufacturing Chemists Association (MCA) formed the Labeling and Precautionary Information (LAPI) Committee. This group got right down to work

This publication continued to be expanded and updated for 25 years until the final 7th Edition of 1970. A name change from the MCA to the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA) in 1978, along with a major internal reorganization, resulted in the elimination of the LAPI Committee, but not the NEED for such a group to continue to exist. So, the following year, members of the LAPI formed the American Council on Chemical Labeling (ACCL) under the umbrella of CMA sponsorship. Friction between the CMA and the upstart ACCL grew, as not all members of the ACCL were, or were allowed to be, CMA members. ACCL members represented a unique mix of industry, academia and government institutions – and viewpoints – and that soon led to the breakaway and incorporation of the ACCL as a stand-alone Washington, D.C. –based non-profit professional society in 1982 and a name change to the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication.

Third – Growth. SCHC grew rather quickly, averaging a membership increase of about 10% per year, as the focus of the organization expanded beyond just labeling, and not just only for the USA. From the 35 to 40 Founders present at the first meeting in 1979, membership swelled to 547 by 1993. The Board of Directors and Officers of SCHC recognized early on the need for a more formal organizational structure that would provide a framework for such growth and also provide a way for more member interaction within SCHC. Standing Committees were established to focus on Society needs and goals, and many still continue to this day (Membership, Arrangements, Professional Development, Awards, Nominating), while others have gone by the wayside (BNA Manual, Computer Resources, Small Packages, Standard Phrases).

Fourth – Training and Professional Development.  The early SCHC meetings consisted of presentations by speakers on issues, Society business, dinner and an after-dinner speaker. This format continued until 1990, when the first 3 hour Short Course on the new EEC Directive for the Packaging and Labeling of Dangerous Substances was offered prior to the regular business meeting.

The very active Professional Development Committee began with the goal of developing training course work and establishing a curriculum of in-house half day, full day and two day courses that would eventually lead to certification as a professional in the field of Hazard Communication. All courses were taught in person until 2011 when SCHC offered the first Distance Learning webinar, and a major part of that certified professional goal was achieved with the launch of the SDS and Label Authoring Registry in partnership with AIHA Registry Programs.

To date, there are 81 Registered SDS and Label Authoring Professionals, and you can find their names on the SCHC website. Spring Meetings began to feature the Poster Session, where SCHC members could present their work and interact with fellow members, and Fall Meetings brought in companies offering HazCom goods and services in our popular Vendor Expo.

The recent addition of the FORUMS to our Plenary Sessions has allowed smaller groups to meet and discuss specific topics in a moderated breakout format, and our vibrant Standing Committees are always looking for new ideas and new perspectives to enhance SCHC member satisfaction in our volunteer-driven Society.

With that, now a bit about where we are going. Our Society has always tried to grow and expand and remain relevant by offering the most targeted opportunities for training, personal and professional growth, networking and service for our members. Recognizing the time and financial constraints present in most companies, and the many other organizations and societies competing for your time and attention, more training will be offered via webinars and on-line workshops. We will continue to look outside of North America as the GHS system and chemical management and control regulations are adopted by more and more countries.

Beginning in 2021, we will make a MAJOR change in our meeting schedule and go to a format of one longer meeting per year instead of two shorter ones. SO – HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY to the SCHC, and may we continue to grow and evolve for many more years to come.