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White House to Adopt International HazMat Label Rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is adopting long-awaited rules to improve labels on hazardous chemicals and make them conform with international standards developed by the United Nations.

About 43 million U.S. workers come in contact with hazardous materials on the job to at least some degree. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the new rules should help prevent more than 40 deaths and about 500 workplace injuries from exposure to hazardous chemicals each year. OSHA officials say the uniform labels also will save the industry more than $475 million annually.

The rules were initially proposed during the last days of the Bush administration. The Obama administration is holding them out as a product of a presidential directive last year to streamline regulations and eliminate red tape without compromising safety.