Philadelphia Worker and Community Right-to-Know Act

Philadelphia Worker and Community Right-to-Know Act

The Philadelphia Worker and Community Right-to-Know Act requires employers that use any of 450 chemical substances to file Material Safety Data Sheets with various local government agencies. (An additional list of 99 chemicals will trigger the filing requirement if they are emitted from the workplace.) Material Safety Data Sheets must be made available to the public, upon request, through the governmental agencies where they are filed. Containers of these chemicals must be clearly labeled. (This was the first municipal right-to-know law.)

Cry Wolf Quotes

Then without regard for exposure concentration in the air, City Council is being asked to make it against the law to ‘receive, store, use manufacture or transport’ any substance on that list without first burdening the citizen and the City Administration with more red tape.

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Richard Kiefer Jr., corporate safety director of the McCloskey Varnish Company.

So that a bill like the Right to Know Bill is not in itself definitive; it would not drive all of these businesses away. It will bear more harshly on some than others, and may expedite their rate of closing or leaving or – and very often it’s not even a question of driving a company away, they just don’t expand here. They go and expand somewhere else.

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Thacher Longstreth, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce

It would require us to mail out forms and get information on 450 or more chemicals from 7,500 firms. We think that would require another 15 people [and $300,000 more in costs].

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William Reilly, head of the Philadelphia Health Department’s Air Management Services. Argues the costs would outweigh the benefits.

Adding another layer of government regulations onto these federal programs which provide substantially similar protection to employees and the public as those proposed in the bill is wasteful, inflationary and unnecessary.

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Robert Vogel, chief regulatory counsel of the Rohm and Haas Company.

Backgrounders & Briefs

Dying To Know: A Historical Analysis of the Right-To-Know Movement

This survey provides a sweeping analysis of the right-to-know movement in America.