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Report of the Hazard Communication Workgroup to the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH)
The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) prepared the following report on Hazard Communication to provide recommendations to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This report is provided on OSHA's Web Site for informational purposes only. The ideas presented herein are not necessarily endorsed by OSHA and do not represent a policy statement or rulemaking effort by OSHA.

cover page The report is organized as follows:
Part I Executive Summary
Part II Recommendations of the Workgroup
Part III Background and Workgroup Membership
Part IV Summary of Public Input
Part V Discussion of Issues
Part VI Conclusions
Appendix A Workgroup Members
Appendix B The Hazard Communication Standard
Appendix C Brief History of Hazard Communication
Appendix D Summary of Presentations and Comments from the Public
Appendix E Summary of ANSI Z400.1

This report was accepted by NACOSH on September 12, 1996, and transmitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).


PART I - EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Since the promulgation of OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) in 1983, there has been considerable praise for the standard and its impact in increasing the awareness of chemical hazards and appropriate precautionary measures by both employers and employees. There has also been criticism, especially from small employers, that the standard is unnecessarily burdensome. In response to some of these concerns, OSHA reopened the record and requested comments in several subject areas which resulted in revisions to the standard which were published in 1994. In May of 1995, the Clinton Administration, as part of its National Performance Review, issued "The New OSHA: Reinventing Worker Safety and Health". The report contained a number of recommendations, one of which was the establishment of a National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) working group on hazard communication and the "right-to-know." In a continuing effort to improve its Hazard Communication Program and in line with recommendations contained in the 1995 President's Report, OSHA asked NACOSH in September 1995 to convene an expanded working group to identify ways to improve chemical hazard communication and the "right-to-know" in the workplace.

OSHA asked the committee to provide OSHA with recommendations to simplify material safety data sheets (MSDSs), reduce the amount of required paperwork, improve the effectiveness of worker training, and revise enforcement policies so that they focus on the most serious hazards.

The workgroup consisted of four members of NACOSH representing Management, Labor, Health and Public categories of membership, supplemented by ten additional members which included state regulators, the chemical industry, small and large business users, hazard communication consultants, unions, and an association which represents many small businesses. The workgroup held public hearings on October 19-20 with presentations made by small businesses and labor organizations, and on December 11-12 with presentations made by larger businesses, professional associations and others who requested to be heard. During a March 20-21, 1996 meeting, the workgroup heard presentations by specialists in training, electronic access systems, and the development of ANSI standards on MSDSs and labels.

In subsequent meetings on April 24-25, June 12-13 and July 23-24, 1996, the workgroup drafted and finalized its report to NACOSH on OSHA's Hazard Communication Program.

During the public presentations and workgroup discussions, there was general agreement on the following:
  • There is a need for hazard communication, and employees have a right-to-know about the hazardous chemicals in their workplace.
  • The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is a good one and the record should not be reopened at this time. However, consistency in interpretation should be stressed and enforcement should be more performance-oriented, emphasizing overall effectiveness.
  • MSDSs can become very long and complicated because they are used for many purposes other than to meet OSHA requirements.
  • Some, mainly small businesses, would like a two-page MSDS that is easy to understand, but not many wanted an additional document which would be necessary to accomplish this.
  • A uniform format should be encouraged; most agreed that OSHA should endorse use of the ANSI Z400.1 format.
  • There should be a way that non-technical people can distinguish MSDSs covering hazardous chemicals which fall under the HCS from those MSDSs that are produced by chemical manufacturers that are not required under the HCS.
  • Maximum use of electronic access and transmission of MSDSs should be allowed as long as other HCS requirements are met (for example, no barriers to immediate access).
  • OSHA should take action to correct misunderstanding and misinformation surrounding the HCS especially in relation to training requirements, issue of non-required MSDSs, electronic access and consumer products.
  • Small businesses need implementation aids such as model programs and guidelines for training, evaluation and hazard determination.
  • Harmonization should be encouraged at the international, national and internal OSHA levels.
As a result of public presentations and workgroup discussions, the workgroup determined that two of the major problems cited--complexity of MSDSs and the large paperwork burden involved in management of the MSDSs--were not really caused by or under the control of OSHA.

In the first instance, it became apparent that the MSDS existed before OSHA's HCS and is used for many purposes other than those of the HCS such as EPA's community right-to-know requirements under the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986. The MSDS is used to provide information to emergency responders and local planning authorities and also serves as a primary data source for health professionals working with exposed individuals. The information needs and presentation are different for all of these groups which contributes to the length of the MSDS. Many presenters expressed their desire for a simple one or two page sheet containing only what the employee needed to know, but is was clear that this would require the creation of an additional document.

In the second instance related to paperwork burden, MSDSs are being prepared and distributed by chemical manufacturers for many substances which are not covered by the HCS. This is the primary cause of the major paperwork burden for which the HCS is blamed but which OSHA does not require. This is also the source of most of the "horror" stories about silly MSDSs. These non-required MSDSs are issued for a number of reasons including requests by customers and product liability. One of the recommendations of this report (Part II) is that OSHA urge chemical manufacturers to include a statement on the first page of the MSDS such as "This product has been determined to be hazardous under OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard" for those hazardous chemicals covered by the HCS so that non-technical personnel can distinguish which chemicals come under their hazard communication program and which MSDSs need not be included. This could represent a significant reduction in paperwork management. In addition, the hazard classification should also be on the first page of the MSDS.

There was a clear desire expressed by most of the presenters and the workgroup for a uniform format for the MSDS. It was noted that the reason OSHA did not specify a standard format in the original HCS was that chemical manufacturers did not want to give up their individual formats at that time and preferred a performance-oriented approach which specified only the information that should be included. When users began to criticize data sheets, the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA) decided it needed to convene a committee to develop guidelines for the preparation of data sheets. These guidelines led to the development of the ANSI Z400.1 voluntary consensus standard for the preparation of MSDSs. In the development process, CMA convened meetings of MSDS users such as employers, workers, health care professionals and emergency responders to assist in the determination of an order of information and standardized headings for sections of the MSDS.

The majority of presenters expressed a clear preference for use of the ANSI format but suggested that rather than open the record to mandate its usage, OSHA should "endorse" its use.

There was strong support for optimizing the use of electronic access and transfer of MSDSs. Paragraph (g)(8) of the HCS provides for electronic access by employees to employer-maintained MSDS data bases as long as there are "no barriers to immediate employee access." Another issue raised was the use of off-site MSDS management services to provide MSDS electronic access. The workgroup recommends that such services be allowed as long as the employees have ready access to the MSDSs. In addition, the workgroup emphasized that allowing off-site management of MSDSs does not relieve the employer of the responsibility to receive and use the information being managed to develop and implement a site-specific hazard communication program.

In general, the workgroup's recommendations address all of these concerns and are summarized in Part II, with a more detailed discussion of the issues in Part V. However, there was considerable discussion about OSHA's ability to fulfill some of these recommendations because of its currently limited resources and the uncertainty surrounding future resources. It was suggested that in some of the areas of recommended program models and guidelines, partnerships with industry, labor and professional associations may be appropriate to add increased support in the future.


PART II - RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE WORKGROUP

The following recommendations have been developed by the workgroup to address the issues raised in the President's Report, in verbal and written comments, and in the workgroup's deliberations. They are organized by topic. A detailed discussion of the points raised, and the subsequent conclusions of the workgroup which led to the adoption of each recommendation, are included in Part V - Discussion of Issues of this report.

Recommendations Related to MSDSs

1) OSHA should endorse the order and section titles as described in ANSI Z400.1-1993, and strongly support the use of other recommendations from this voluntary standard. This can be done through release of an OSHA memorandum, an interpretive letter, interpretive notice and/or listing of the order and section titles as a non-mandatory appendix to the HCS.

2) OSHA should endorse the addition of a statement by the MSDS preparer which indicates whether the product is regulated under the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) as a hazardous chemical. The statement should also indicate the hazard classification type as defined in the HCS and its appendices. This information should be on the first page of the MSDS allowing users to separate, if desired, the MSDSs falling under the HCS from other MSDSs.

3) OSHA should actively participate in future ANSI Z400.1 revisions as part of these endorsements. This would include providing the ANSI Z400.1 Committee the recommendations made by this workgroup.

4) OSHA, possibly in partnership with industry, labor and professional associations, should develop a guidance document to describe, in a step-by-step manner, how to conduct a hazard determination. This publication should help small businesses improve the accuracy of their MSDSs and help users determine their quality.

Recommendations Related to Labeling

5) OSHA should not unilaterally mandate the use of symbols for MSDSs and labels until symbol validation studies are carried out. The United States should insist on validation studies before symbols become part of an internationally-harmonized system. Should symbols become part of a rule adopted by the US, OSHA should require employee training on the meaning of the symbols.

6) The use of color coding systems as the sole means to communicate hazards of a chemical should not be mandated for OSHA labels. Should color coding be a part of a rule adopted under international harmonization efforts, OSHA should not make the color coding a part of the US system until the validation studies are carried out and training is required. Color coding should not be used as the sole means to communicate hazard to the extent that a color blind person would be deprived of necessary information.
7) The workgroup supports the current hazard communication requirement for a label attached to the container and the availability of an MSDS in the work area.
8) OSHA should endorse ANSI Z129.1-1994 as a consistent approach for precautionary labeling.

Recommendations Related to Electronic Management of MSDSs

9) OSHA should adopt the following policy regarding electronic access to MSDSs in lieu of paper copies kept at the worksite:
  • Working electronic devices must be readily accessible in the workplace at all times. All workers must be trained in the use of these devices (including the specific software).
  • The employer must have an adequate backup plan for rapid access to MSDSs in the event of an emergency, including an interruption in power.
10) OSHA should adopt a policy that specifies that the use of off-site MSDS management services meets the requirements of the HCS only if MSDSs are readily available to employees, either as hard copies in the workplace, or through electronic means as described above (recommendation # 9). OSHA should make it clear that the use of an off-site MSDS management service does not relieve the employer of the obligation to receive and utilize the information from the MSDSs being managed to develop and implement a site-specific hazard communication program under paragraph (e) of the HCS.

Recommendations Related to Employee Training

11) OSHA should develop "model" training programs, based upon the best existing programs and the experience of educators, industry, labor, professional organizations and others, which cover all aspects of the training required by the HCS. Programs should include general elements directly usable by employees, guidelines to assist employers in developing site-specific training, and techniques which are sensitive to employees without basic language and mathematical skills. Programs should also include evaluation criteria to assess the overall effectiveness of the training provided. These criteria should be added to non-mandatory Appendix E of the HCS. The program evaluation should not be used to assess or evaluate individual employee performance.

12) OSHA should better communicate to industry, trade associations and compliance officers what portions of the training, as currently stated in Appendix E, Part C, are meant to stay with the employee when he goes from one employer to another.

Recommendations Related to Enforcement of the HCS

13) OSHA should adopt an enforcement policy for situations where an employer has implemented a comprehensive and effective hazard communication program, but minor deficiencies have been found. When these deficiencies do not affect the safety and health of employees, and are abated within 24 hours, OSHA could issue an advisory letter and put a notation in the case file rather than issuing a citation.

14) OSHA should develop ways to address enforcement issues related to the accuracy of MSDSs.

15) OSHA should develop a system to address inconsistencies in implementation through outreach efforts with employers, employees, trade associations and professional societies.

16) OSHA should reemphasize the role of the Regional Hazard Communication Coordinators to improve consistency of enforcement and interpretation of the HCS.

17) OSHA should increase internal communications about implementation and enforcement of the HCS in regularly scheduled staff meetings and training sessions for CSHOs to improve consistency of enforcement and interpretation.

18) OSHA should ensure that the Hazard Communication Standard is not inadvertently changed through compliance interpretations. OSHA should review the compliance memoranda previously issued and take any necessary steps to correct past confusion and inconsistencies.

19) OSHA should review the guidance given to compliance officers in the area of consumer products. When the review is finished, OSHA should distribute an information bulletin describing the application of the HCS to consumer products (see Part V of this report for discussion of the March, 1995 memorandum).

20) OSHA should utilize Hazard Communication as an opportunity to develop partnerships between OSHA, industry, labor and professional associations for more effective communication.

Recommendations Related to Harmonization of Hazard Communication Requirements

21) OSHA should continue to actively pursue domestic and international harmonization of requirements for classification of hazards, labeling, and material safety data sheets.
  • To achieve the greatest possible benefits in terms of improved protection and decreased compliance burdens, global harmonization is the preferable approach. This would also accomplish North American harmonization and harmonization of domestic Agencies' requirements.
  • If global agreement is not reached, the United States should work with Canada and Mexico under NAFTA to achieve a North American system.
  • If NAFTA negotiations are not successful, the United States should, as a minimum, harmonize the existing requirements of different Federal agencies.
22) OSHA should review its substance-specific standards and other classification and labeling requirements and take action to make sure they are consistent with the Hazard Communication Standard. In addition, future standards should address the issue in a consistent manner.

Recommendations Related to Misinformation about the HCS

23) OSHA should develop a system to combat the spread of "misinformation" about the Hazard Communication Standard by instituting a systematic way of addressing both the misconceptions and misinformation through outreach efforts with employers, employees, trade associations and professional societies.


PART III - BACKGROUND AND WORKGROUP MEMBERSHIP

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) asked the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) to form a workgroup to identify ways to improve chemical hazard communication and the right-to-know in the workplace. In the notice that appeared in the Federal Register of September 28, 1995, OSHA asked NACOSH to provide OSHA with recommendations to:
  • Simplify material safety data sheets.
  • Reduce the amount of required paper work.
  • Improve the effectiveness of worker training.
  • Revise enforcement policies so that they focus on the most serious hazards.
Four members of NACOSH were assigned to the hazard communication workgroup, and ten professionals with expertise in hazard communication, representing small and large businesses, unions, state governments, and consulting firms, were appointed as members of the workgroup. The members of the workgroup were:

NACOSH MEMBERS
Chair, Henry B. Lick, Ph.D., Manager of Industrial Hygiene, Ford Motor Company (Management Representative)

Andrea K. Taylor, Dr. P.H., Occupational Health Policy Consultant, Health and Safety Department, United Auto Workers, AFL-CIO-CLC (Health Representative)

Michael J. Wright, Director of Health, Safety & Environment, United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO-CLC (Labor Representative)

Kenneth J. Zeller, Indiana Commissioner of Labor (Public Representative)
ADDITIONAL WORKGROUP MEMBERS
Adria C. Casey, Ph.D., President, Catala Associates, Inc.

Patricia Dsida, President, ChemADVISOR, Inc.

Linda Hanavan, Manager TSCA and International Inventory Compliance, Cytec Industries, Inc.

Whitney Long , Manager of Health Affairs (through December 1995) and Skip Edwards, Manager of Safety and Health (March through July 1996); National Paint and Coatings Association

Max Lum, Associate Director, Health Communications, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Adrienne Markowitz, Director of Health and Safety; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, AFL-CIO, CLC

Ileana O'Brien, Deputy Commissioner of Labor and Industry, State of Maryland

Donald Rainville, President, Universal Dynamics, Inc.

Brad Sant, Director, Hazardous Materials Training, Firefighters Union, AFL-CIO

Michele R. Sullivan, Ph.D., Director of Product Stewardship, Hoechst Celanese Corporation
OSHA PARTICIPANTS
Joanne Goodell, Policy Directorate, OSHA

Jennifer Silk, Health Standards Directorate, OSHA
More information, including the business addresses and telephone numbers of the workgroup members, is contained in Appendix A.


PART IV - SUMMARY OF PUBLIC INPUT

The workgroup heard 4 days of testimony from various groups and individuals. In addition, the workgroup invited several speakers to provide details about computer methodology, training programs and the development of ANSI Standard Z400.1.

Opening presentation October 19 - Jennifer Silk, OSHA Health Standards Development Directorate

In the opening presentation on October 19th, Jennifer Silk reviewed a paper she had prepared for the group. This paper is a brief history of the Hazard Communication Standard and is provided in Appendix C. Ms. Silk's paper provided a necessary background and framework for the ensuing discussions. Ms. Silk informed the group that Hazard Communication represents the broadest health standard OSHA has, since it covers approximately 35 million workers in 3.5 million establishments. It is a generic, performance-based standard that covers 650,000 hazardous chemical products and, for many employers, represents the first time they thought an OSHA rule applied to them. She emphasized that the standard covers only hazardous chemical products but that material safety data sheets (MSDSs) are being developed and transmitted to users on lots of chemical products that are not hazardous and therefore not required by OSHA. This has a great impact on the view of business being "bombarded" by paperwork required by OSHA.

Ms. Silk also discussed international harmonization and the efforts to set up an international system to classify chemicals, and US (and specifically OSHA) involvement in these activities. The U.S. is a major importer and exporter of chemicals. A unification of regulatory definitions which are critical to conduct of international business along with employee safety and environmental protection is more necessary than ever.

Thomas Galassi, Division Chief, OSHA Office of Health Compliance Assistance

Mr. Galassi informed the group of a draft directive in process which covers some of the issues dealing with paperwork, the adequacy of written programs and the definitions of "serious" versus "other" violations. He supplied copies of the draft directive to the workgroup.

A member of the workgroup asked Mr. Galassi what OSHA does for MSDSs which may be inaccurate or incomplete. He stated that these are handled by referral to an industrial hygienist in a special pilot group in Salt Lake City.

Another question from the workgroup concerned how OSHA trains compliance officers to deal with electronic methods of training being used by employers. Mr. Galassi said that in some cases interactive training modules (such as those supplied on CD-ROM) might be satisfactory for parts of the training, but that typically this type of training does not have the ability to give training about the specific chemicals in a particular workplace. Its basic shortcoming is that there is no opportunity to ask questions specific to the workplace.

The Agency's use of computers to increase the effectiveness of their compliance officers includes the QUIPS project which contains all letters of interpretation organized by subject that is electronically available to all inspectors and is also on OCIS, on the DOL Bulletin Board, and in the Office of Publications. A second system called OSCAR (OSHA System for Compliance Assistance and Referral) includes QUIPS, regulations, preambles to regulations, relevant case law, and other federal agency regulations for all regulatory subjects which is available to anyone.

Mr. Galassi's statements that employee access to MSDSs can be interpreted as allowing access within 24 hours drew strong objections from workgroup members Wright and Markowitz. Workgroup members Zeller, Rainville and O'Brien also expressed strong disagreement with the concept and with Mr. Galassi's definition of the current requirement being "by the end of the workshift". The workgroup agreed that both 24 hours and 8 hours were too long to meet the meaning of the Standard which was the have the information available throughout the workshift.

The presentations made in the afternoon of October 19th were:

Michael J. Fagel, Corporate Safety Director of Aurora Packing Company.

He emphasized for the workgroup a vital function of the MSDSs - reducing the use of hazardous chemicals and finding substitutes that are non or less hazardous. This company is primarily concerned with sanitation chemicals. They have reduced the number of hazardous chemicals they use by 30%. He said he would like a standardized MSDS format and the use of "understandable" English. He also spoke from the standpoint of a volunteer emergency responder about the difficulty of dealing with so much paperwork.

Dr. David Whiston (a practicing dentist) representing the American Dental Association

Dr. Whiston requested an exemption of dental offices with 10 or fewer employees. Absent exemption, he suggested that OSHA: (1) allow small employers to provide access to MSDSs by electronic means or FAX in lieu of hard copy at site; (2) provide better guidance to manufacturers on how to develop useful MSDSs; (3) approve a model MSDS format for dental products; (4) redefine the elements of an adequate written program; and (5) exempt small dental offices from having to keep hard copies of MSDSs on office supplies. He provided the workgroup members with a copy of an MSDS format which the AMA considered appropriate for their members.

Brian Bursick of AFIA and John Ojanen of Southern States both representing The American Feed Industry Association

Mr. Ojanen discussed the difficulty their businesses have coping with the large number of MSDSs, particularly those prepared for substances which are not "scientifically determined" to be hazardous. He believed the chemical manufacturers issuing MSDSs for everything they manufacture, whether or not it is hazardous, want to limit their own liability. Unfortunately this reduces the significance of the necessary MSDSs. He said MSDSs are hard to read and require information difficult for employees to use (like information sources, etc.). He also felt that because feed ingredients were regulated by FDA they should be exempted from HazCom. Ojanen also recommended that a list of hazardous chemicals requiring MSDSs be developed using existing lists from DOT, EPA, OSHA, etc. He urged OSHA to "reinvent" the HazCom program so that MSDSs are generated only for chemicals that have been scientifically determined to be truly hazardous. Asked by the workgroup if it would help if a fixed MSDS format had a statement near the top indicating that the substance was hazardous and why, his answer was a very definite "Yes".

Linwood Gilman, Chief of Hazardous Materials Management (DOD Defense General Supply Center in Richmond)

Mr. Gilman manages most of the hazardous materials procured by the Defense Department and supports the DOD Hazardous Materials Information System. He suggested that the workgroup consider the rapidly developing electronic transmission methods and how they are changing the way business is done in considering how businesses can respond to Hazard Communication requirements. He suggested we consider breaking MSDSs into sections geared toward specific user communities. He also mentioned the ability of an MSDS to address the problem of an article which is not hazardous in the workplace but hazardous at the time of disposal (i.e. consideration of the life cycle of an article). When asked by the workgroup about the quality of MSDSs, he stated that there were many technically inaccurate datasheets and he would like to see the "optional" requirements of the Standard, particularly the need for CAS numbers, made mandatory.

Lin Smale representing The Society of American Florists

Ms. Smale suggested OSHA should consider different communication systems for small vs. large businesses. The Society of American Florists represents growers, wholesalers, retailers--the whole floriculture industry. She noted that the growers see overlap between the OSHA regulations and EPA regulations. She emphasized that regulations work best if easy to understand and administer, and she strongly encouraged more communication between government agencies in establishing the regulations. She said her industry strongly supports the objectives of the HazCom standard and is doing its best to comply.

Michael Sprinker, Director of Health and Safety for the International Chemical Workers Union

Mr. Sprinker stated that OSHA's HazCom standard has resulted in workers and supervisors being better able to understand the physical and health effects of the materials they work with and that we're far better off than before. He favors a standardized format. He also suggested that better "incompatibility" of materials be included on MSDSs. He also suggested we look at NIEHS hazardous waste worker training programs as these were very well done. He emphasized that it is important to remember in using computer systems that they go down and that in a fire emergency, the power goes off.

Michael Wright, Director, Health, Safety and Environment, United Steelworkers of America

Mr. Wright mentioned that Steelworkers, Autoworkers and Machinists are in the process of merging. In reviewing the history and events leading up to the promulgation of the HazCom standard, Mike said that as recently as the late seventies, workers were refused information on chemicals and were not permitted to see their medical/exposure records. He said they had to fight the government and even OSHA, who wanted to set separate chemical standards, to get a HazCom standard which they say is now very popular. He went on to say that he felt there was a lot of room for improvement in the implementation of the standard without modifying the actual standard which he didn't feel was necessary at this time. The way information is collected, the way that information is analyzed can be done in a way that makes it easier for both workers and managers, and that the challenge of this workgroup is to find a way to do this. In any consideration of the Standard he emphasized that we must start with the absolute right of the worker to know the names and hazards of what one is exposed to.

Presentations made on October 20th included:

Michael O'Brien, Assistant Vice President for Labor Regulation of the National Association of Homebuilders

Mr. O'Brien suggested the reconstruction of the Hazard Communication Standard to include the elimination of the requirement for employers to maintain MSDSs. He recommends that the function of the label be expanded and that health professionals be supplied with 800 numbers, FAX numbers or some combination of these which would supply them with additional information which may be necessary. Another suggestion was to have employees carry a card or other identification to show that they had basic training and only needed specific on-site training. He wanted the requirements for portability of training clarified. In answer to a question from the Chair, he confirmed that he believed in the concept of OSHA's HazCom standard but had a problem with the delivery.

Eamonn McGeady, President of Martin G. Inbach, Inc.

Martin G, Inbach, Inc. is a medium-sized (50 employees) company doing heavy marine construction of piles for piers. Half of his people are HAZMAT trained in OSHA courses. He displayed a thick notebook full of MSDSs that he issued to each of his employees. He said there is a need for common sense and suggested use of icons instead of complex chemical descriptions. He said OSHA ought to educate, inform and advise; then enforce. He would prefer a labeling standard with icons for use in the field backed up by a repository of more detailed information.

Patrick Rowsey, Regulatory Analyst for the National Automobile Association (NADA)

Mr. Rowsey said that service, body and parts shop managers indicate that while HazCom training is understood and accepted by their workers, the actual use of MSDSs by employees for additional information is rare and the use of the MSDSs in training is made difficult due to lack of uniformity in the MSDSs. NADA urges the workgroup to recommend that hazardous information systems be standardized and that the consensus MSDS standard being promoted by CMA be carefully reviewed. OSHA should clarify the definition of consumer products with examples to help small businesses. The rule should be modified to require phone numbers on chemical labels to facilitate procurement of missing MSDSs.

Benjamin Y. Cooper, Senior Vice President, Printing Industries of America

Mr. Cooper said that the one million people in the printing business work with many chemicals with frequently changing formulations. All the chemicals used come with MSDSs. They recommend that OSHA immediately clarify to its enforcement personnel that electronic data is not only acceptable but in many cases preferable. The fact that Federal OSHA says electronic records maintenance is acceptable but field personnel say it is not creates difficulties. They also recommend that OSHA require a standardized MSDS format.

Cathy McClure, Manager of Human Resources, Health and Safety for MSI, Vicki Worden, Legislative Assistant, representing the National Lumber and Building Materials Dealers Association.

Cathy McClure described their major problem as the requirement to transmit hazard warning labels downstream on treated lumber with every shipment. She discussed the evolution of confusing interpretations related to this requirement. Moreover, she maintained that this label goes to the wrong people and serves no purpose. She stressed that their organization feels that the intent of the regulation is most effectively conveyed from retailer to employees and downstream employers through distribution of hazard warning labels on a one-time basis (and each time an update is required). Vicki Worden said that they strongly believe an MSDS repository would provide a solution to the burdensome paperwork requirements. She stressed to the workgroup the types of paperwork problems they face and the need to streamline this standard.

Loren A. Anderson, Jr., Treasurer of the American Industrial Hygiene Association

Mr. Anderson presented the following recommendations:
1. Harmonizing chemical warning requirements and the development of a global approach to hazard communication to ensure optimum health and safety worldwide.

2. Providing all hazard information in the primary language of the intended audience and in a format that is targeted to the audience's educational and literacy level to increase comprehension of the information.

3. Utilizing training methods that are performance-based, creative, interactive, job-specific, and tailored to the language and educational level of the worker.

4. Improving the accuracy, clarity, and availability of MSDSs through a standardized format that focuses the user's attention on the key protective information.

5. Including standardized warning signs and pictograms on labels of hazardous materials that clearly depict the types and levels of hazards in an understandable manner to ensure that workers are adequately alerted to the hazards of the products with which they are working.
Ellen Larson, Director of Government Relations for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America

Ms. Larson said that their 3000 members, who are mostly small businesses with many having fewer than ten employees, would like to reduce the paperwork requirements. They would like a summary on the MSDS and clarification of labeling requirements. They also support the use of electronic filing systems. They have a training program that was co-developed with the National Homebuilders Association and others.

Presentations made on December 11, 1995:

Chris Bryan, Safety Manager with Martin Marietta Materials and Chair of the National Stone Association's (NSA) Task Force on Hazard Communication.

Mr. Bryan pointed out that, although NSA's members are primarily regulated by MSHA, they are interested in these proceedings because MSHA has a hazard communication standard pending which could be influenced by NACOSH recommendations. NSA believes that part of the problem lies in using listings by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to precipitate inclusion of a chemical substance under the standard. NSA considers use of IARC and NTP improper and requests that such use be abandoned. They favor a standardized format. NSA also supports the written program requirement but suggests OSHA provide a model program to assist small businesses. Adele L. Abrams, Director of Governmental Affairs for NSA accompanied Mr. Bryan and participated in the questioning.

Maurice A. Desmarais, American Supply Association (ASA) and the New England Wholesalers Association

Mr. Desmarais informed the committee that 12 regional ASA affiliates had worked together to develop a two-volume MSDS catalog containing over 4500 MSDSs. They have distributed over 160,000 catalogs at a cost exceeding one million dollars. They "question the wisdom of requiring an MSDS sheet at every job site for every product that contains a so-called hazardous substance". They would like to have a standardized format for the MSDS. Pat O'Connor of Kent & O'Connor's Washington Government Affairs Office accompanied Mr. Desmarais. In answer to a question from the workgroup, they stated that they included all MSDSs they received in the catalog, whether or not they apply to hazardous substances covered by the regulation.

Dave Luth, President of Axxis Business Solutions, Inc.

Mr. Luth explained that he was not a hazard communications specialist but was involved in the electronic dissemination and retrieval of MSDSs. Unfortunately, the distributors are receiving many more MSDSs than are required and so are distributing many more than they need to. This significantly increases the cost to implement the program. He would like OSHA to develop an MSDS workplace classification system to aid small companies that requires the chemical manufacturer to designate each MSDS as: (1) Required, (2) Recommended, and (3) For Information Only. Category (1) would require downstream dissemination; Category (2) would make it optional; and Category (3) would make it unnecessary. Dr. Sullivan asked if a statement on the MSDS such as "this is regulated or hazardous under 29 CFR 1910.1200" would help. Mr. Luth said it would.

George Ganak, CoChair of the Naval Supply Systems Command Process Integration Team

Mr. Ganak stressed efforts to use electronic methods to manage MSDSs. In particular he supports a better way to tie the MSDS to the product. He would like to see the adoption and mandatory use of the Universal Product Code (UPC) since he feels very strongly that users need some sort of "standard license plate" tying the product and MSDS together. They would like to encourage use of the Z-400 format for paper MSDSs and the ANSI X-12 set 848 for electronic transactions. In response to a question from the workgroup on how changes to a product are handled, and when a new UPC is assigned, Ganak cited Guideline 27 put out by the Uniform Code Council that says if the manufacturer changes the product significantly enough to require a new MSDS, they will assign a new UPC number. The workgroup expressed concerns about the issuance of a new UPC when the product name and other information did not change.

Director Jan S. Collins, Executive Director, Workplace Health and Safety Council, Dr. Philip J. Wakelyn, Manager of Environmental Health and Safety for the National Cotton Council of America.

Ms. Collins said that her members considered the HazCom Standard to be one of the most important standards ever promulgated by OSHA. They do, however, feel that there are administrative actions OSHA could take to improve its enforcement policy. One would be providing a meaningful exemption for de minimus exposures. Another area of concern to the Council is the national harmonization of regulations. Ms. Collins mentioned that DOL, DOT and EPA all have jurisdiction over labeling, packaging and training related to hazardous materials and that sometimes the requirements are inconsistent. Mr. Wakelyn emphasized the need for definition of "health risk" and stated that potential exposure to a hazard does not constitute risk. Dr. Wakelyn also urged that the MSDS format should require an Executive Summary written in user-friendly terms. He expressed the concerns of others he had talked with who felt that the ANSI format may have made the MSDS more rather than less complicated.

Three people made presentations representing the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA).

1) Thomas G. Grumbles, Manager of Product Safety and Occupational Health for Vista Chemical Company.

Mr. Grumbles emphasized standardizing and simplifying MSDSs and improving cautionary labeling. In this respect he made reference to CMA's efforts in developing a guideline for writing MSDSs which was later issued by ANSI as Z400.1 which includes an Emergency Overview. He also mentioned CMA's participation in the development of a logical format for chemical precautionary industrial labeling as contained in ANSI Z129.1. In conclusion he said that CMA requests that NACOSH recommend that OSHA specifically endorse both ANSI Z400.1 and Z129.1 as effective vehicles for improving hazard communication.

2) Stephen E. Randall, Director of CMA's MSDS Central

Mr. Randall would like OSHA to (1) address electronic systems as a viable technology to keep MSDSs; and (2) address electronic transmission of MSDSs as an accepted method for delivering MSDSs to customers. He said many companies are improving MSDS management by collecting MSDSs in a central location within their company. An electronic copy can be made available immediately through their own central network to any of their employees at any location. Randall feels that OSHA's endorsement of the use of electronic systems both to store MSDSs in-house and to distribute them to customers will accelerate the use of systems resulting in reduction of paper and improvement of the quality and timeliness of MSDS information.

3) Amy Berg, Safety and Occupational Health Consultant to DuPont

Ms. Berg stated CMA believes that OSHA's compliance directive and enforcement practices should be re-examined; they feel that the compliance directive (OSHA Instruction CPL 2-238C) contains additional requirements and an interpretation that is very narrow, overly specific and too inflexible for a performance-based standard (section K.8(5). She said they believe training should focus on the most serious hazards and the steps employees must take to protect themselves, rather than training workers on all possible hazards. Ms. Berg recommended that OSHA direct whatever resources are available to the development and expansion of small business training programs. She summarized by saying that CMA believes that "OSHA can work with industry to improve the effectiveness of worker training, simplify its enforcement policies, and redirect its resources so that all stakeholders are focused on the real hazards in the workplace."

Bruce Larson, Manager of Industrial Hygiene, Allen E. Stupplebeen, Manager of Product Safety Services, Mobil Chemical Company

Mr. Larson mentioned that Mobil is active in organizations who all strongly support the goal, structure and current content of OSHA's HazCom Standard. He said there was no need to reopen the record on the standard. Needed changes could be made by modifying the current enforcement directive. Both Mr. Larson and Mr. Stupplebeen encouraged OSHA to endorse the use of modern efforts of transmitting MSDSs. He also recommended that OSHA develop a model training program and increase its outreach programs, holding more local and regional workshops aimed at small and medium sized companies. In response to questions, they said they provide their distributors with a CD-ROM and have a centralized audit system to check for compliance.

Presentations made on December 12, 1995:

Angus E. Crane, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Counsel, and Gary E. Marchant of Kirkland & Ellis representing North American Insulation Manufacturers Association

Mr. Crane recommended that the HazCom Program be made more effective by: (1) ensuring that hazard warning requirements are consistent with the weight of relevant, scientific evidence; (2) clarifying the term "positive study" used to trigger HazCom requirements; and (3) standardizing and simplifying the format of MSDSs. He also recommended modifying training requirements to 1)eliminate unnecessary duplicative training; (2)use clear thresholds based on risk exposure to trigger HazCom requirements; and (3) endorse appropriate disclaimers on MSDSs stating that "the information provided does not necessarily indicate that the substance in a given application results in any exposure or risk to workers or the general public." Finally, he said the HazCom Program could be made fairer by ensuring that one product or company does not gain an unwarranted competitive advantage by: (1) eliminating the current bias that favors untested products; and (2) by removing unfair advantages gained by products regulated by other agencies (such as cellulose insulation).

Frank White, Vice President, Organization Resources Counselors' (ORC)and Carolyn Phillips, Industrial Hygiene Advisor, Shell Chemical Company and Shell Oil Products Company.

Mr. White stated that ORC believes OSHA should encourage use of a standardized format consistent with ANSI Z400.1 but ORC does not believe OSHA should reopen the HazCom Standard to require use of the ANSI format. ORC urges OSHA to provide additional outreach and assistance in the use of electronic information systems that can assist small business in managing the burden of maintaining MSDSs more efficiently. ORC also suggests OSHA update its "Hazard Communication Compliance Kit", which is available to the public through the U.S. Government Printing Office. He said that several sections are out of date. ORC believes OSHA compliance personnel should "focus on evaluation of the overall effectiveness of an employer's hazard communication program rather than looking for isolated infractions of the standard's requirement."

Ms. Phillips said she believes the HazCom Standard is one of the best, most useful and comprehensive standards that OSHA has promulgated. She said OSHA could improve their training assistance by: (1) updating their generic, overall HazCom Program guidance using up-to-date graphics and current technology; (2) encouraging trade associations of small to mid-size employers in to make simple HazCom Programs available to their members; and (3) providing information on basic hazcom training including a list of training resources to employers who need assistance. In discussing the overall program, Ms. Phillips said that "the culprit is enforcement, not the standard."

Jason Scriven, representing International Mass Retailers Association.

Mr. Scriven, associated with 3E Company, provides hazardous materials information services. Scriven urged the workgroup to recommend use of a centralized MSDS management and support system. He proposed that the following be added to the HazCom Standard:

"It is acceptable to manage MSDSs from a central database or library, for the purpose of providing MSDS to employees, distributing MSDS to downline customers or maintaining MSDS for multiple locations, as long as no barriers to immediate employee access in each workplace are created by such options, and so long as in-person support is available to assist in identifying the MSDS and understanding the information contained in the MSDS. The MSDS provided by a central source must be the most current, product specific MSDS available from the manufacturer. It is acceptable for a wholesale distributor to manage MSDS from a central location, provided that there are no barriers to access for customers who previously would have received MSDS with each shipment."

Philip A. Scearcy, Occupational Safety and Health Consultant for the Minnesota Regional Poison Center, and Robert L. Weir, Director of Risk Management for Rhodes, Inc.

Mr. Scearcy and Mr.Weir discussed the possible Use of Regional Poison Control Centers for the electronic transfer of MSDSs via FAX or computer to meet the requirements of the HazCom Standard. They emphasized that these programs were not a substitution for employee training but rather a supplemental aspect. They would like OSHA to determine that such a program meets the requirements of the HazCom Standard.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) was represented by Colette Mlynarek, API Senior Regulatory Analyst, Steve Killiany, Health and Safety Advisor with Exxon, and Frank Nitsch, Industrial Hygienist with Amoco.

Ms. Mlynarek stated that API believes that some enhancements can be useful in improving the effectiveness of HazCom, but thinks they can be made without additional rulemaking. They recommend: (1) a uniform format for all MSDSs, (2) a cooperative industry and labor initiative to improve training; and (3) revision of OSHA's enforcement policy to provide outreach and consultation services especially to smaller businesses. API thinks limiting the length of MSDSs is impractical and encourages use of the ANSI standardized format for MSDSs. API supports development of new guidance for OSHA compliance personnel.

Steve Killiany reiterated the belief that imposing limitations on the length of MSDSs would be impractical. He does, however, favor establishment of the ANSI Z100.1 format as a standard. He also recommends that OSHA support the philosophy of electronic data systems and the efforts of business to adopt such systems for MSDS dissemination. OSHA should support consistency in both domestic and international hazard communication issues, citing inconsistencies among Federal agencies with regard to definitions and requirements.

Frank Nitsch discussed training and said focus should be on content rather than on a stipulated number of hours, and that testing employees' understanding was an important facet of an effective program. He said the training program provides a unique opportunity for OSHA, industry and labor to work together to help small businesses comply with the requirements. He added that use of a standardized MSDS format would aid the training effort. He said API supports development of new guidance for compliance personnel such as that suggested in the new policy directive CPL 2.111 emphasizing evaluation of overall adequacy.

Pam Susi, Center to Protect Workers Rights on behalf of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO.

She recommended: (1) standardizing the format, simplifying the language, and requiring manufacturers to assess the accuracy of MSDS annually; (2) requiring MSDSs to be specific to products/materials posing exposure hazards on the specific job site to reduce unnecessary paperwork and increase usability; (3) requiring employers to designate personnel responsible for implementing the HazCom Program; (4) upgrading labeling requirements (large print, simple language); and (5) continuing the requirement for site-specific, "hard copies" of MSDSs at the site. She also recommended establishment of minimum training requirements and training grants for the construction industry.

Laurie M. Shelby, Manager of Industrial Hygiene Programs and Regulatory Compliance, Reynolds Metals Company.

Ms. Shelby is project manager for the company-wide initiative to develop an electronic storage and retrieval system for MSDSs and container labels. Reynolds has over 44,000 MSDSs for products they use. They also produce 500 MSDSs for products they manufacture and use the ANSI Z400.1 format. She recommends that OSHA adopt the ANSI format as a mandatory appendix and the Electronic Data Interchange format for MSDSs (ANSI X12 data set 848) as a non-mandatory approach. She recommended that OSHA strengthen guidance on hazard determination making it less performance oriented. It should specify required references, testing procedures and standards that should be used by manufacturers to determine hazards and better define the parameters which make a product hazardous. She also recommended that OSHA require a chemical tracking and inventory system, and provide a means or guide for worker training.

The complete minutes appear as Appendix D to this document.


PART V - DISCUSSION OF ISSUES

A. The Hazard Communication Standard

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) was first adopted as a final rule in 1983, with provisions that covered the manufacturing sector of industry. It was later expanded in 1987 to cover all facilities where employees are potentially exposed to hazardous chemicals while performing their jobs. The current final rule was promulgated in 1994--it made a number of modifications to the provisions to clarify and update them based on the implementation and enforcement experiences of the regulated community and the Agency. The text of the standard has been included as Appendix B of this report. In addition, Appendix C provides the history of the standard and elaborates the issues involved in its implementation. The following is a brief summary of some of the key points regarding the rule.

The HCS requires chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import. Information about the hazards and associated protective measures is to be provided to users of the chemicals through labels on containers and material safety data sheets. Labels are to provide a quick summary of the hazard information, while data sheets are a detailed reference source for employers and employees. Employees are required to be trained regarding the hazards, how to protect themselves, and how to find and access the information on labels and MSDSs. Labels, MSDSs, and training are thus interdependent parts of the standard--no one of these information transmittal mechanisms is believed to be effective by itself.

The HCS is different from most OSHA standards. It does not dictate specific control measures for any chemical; rather it provides employers, employees, and employee representatives with the information they need to create an effective chemical safety program. As such, the standard depends on a voluntary change in behavior or practice.

Employers and employees both need good chemical information. Employers have the responsibility for designing engineering controls, selecting appropriate personal protective equipment, ensuring that the proper tools are used, planning for emergencies, and training their employees. The most effective programs are ones where employees and their representatives participate in all aspects of the program's design and implementation. In addition, employees and their representatives need to know the identities and hazards of workplace chemicals so they can ensure the program is effective. None of this can be accomplished without the information provided through the HCS. One additional benefit is the possibility of selecting less hazardous chemicals for work operations, thus preventing rather than merely controlling hazardous exposures.

In combination, the increased knowledge of employers and employees will lead to actions that reduce hazardous chemical exposures and therefore the potential for chemically-related illnesses and injuries.

The HCS is a generic standard, covering all types of hazardous chemicals and all industries. OSHA has estimated that the scope of coverage is 650,000 hazardous chemical products, to which over 32 million workers may be potentially exposed in about 3.5 million establishments. The provisions are largely performance-oriented, which gives employers the flexibility to tailor their programs to the characteristics of their workplaces. It also incorporates a downstream flow of information from chemical manufacturers and distributors, who know the most about the product, to the using employers.

The provisions of the standard were based largely on the practices of companies that already addressed right-to-know in their safety and health programs before the HCS was promulgated. Similar provisions for hazard communication have been adopted by many other countries as well, including Canada, Mexico, members of the European Union, and Australia.

B. The Workgroup's Task

In May of 1995, the Clinton Administration, as part of its National Performance Review, issued "The New OSHA: Reinventing Worker Safety and Health". The report contained a number of recommendations, one of which was the establishment of a NACOSH working group on hazard communication and the right-to-know.

OSHA announced the establishment of the group in a September 28, 1995 Federal Register notice (60 FR 50218). NACOSH was asked to provide OSHA with recommendations to:
  • Simplify material safety data sheets. MSDSs are the primary source of detailed information about the hazardous chemical under the requirements of the HCS. They provide data regarding the hazards, protective measures, and ways to handle the chemical safely. MSDSs were common before the HCS, but at that time they were often 2-page documents. Since they are now used to transmit a wide range of information to more audiences, they have become much longer and often more complicated. Some chemical users have found them to be difficult to understand and use, particularly since there is no required standard format for them. In addition, users are sometimes concerned about the accuracy of the information received.
  • Reduce the amount of required paperwork. The workgroup was asked to examine the paperwork required under the HCS to determine whether any changes could be made that would reduce the paperwork burden. While MSDSs are usually the requirement for paperwork that people are concerned about, labels and written hazard communication programs also contribute to the paperwork burdens.
  • Improve the effectiveness of worker training. Effective training is critical to ensuring that employees understand and can use the information presented on labels and material safety data sheets. While employers have done considerable training to comply with the HCS requirements, it has often been ineffective. The workgroup was asked to address the issue of improving the effectiveness of employee training provided by employers to comply with the HCS.
  • Revise enforcement policies to focus on the most serious hazards. The HCS has been OSHA's most cited standard for many years. The workgroup was asked to examine the enforcement policies of the Agency to determine if any changes are needed to ensure that the enforcement activities are properly targeted. In addition, concerns have been raised about inconsistent enforcement practices.
In addition to these four issues, the workgroup was also asked to address whether the HCS should be reopened to modify the rule's requirements regarding employee access to MSDSs. Specifically, the charge to the workgroup in the President's Report was:

In particular, the working group will be asked to consider the possibility of amending the present rule to allow employers to meet their obligations under the standard to provide employees with material safety data sheets if they can obtain and provide these sheets within 24 hours or immediately in an emergency.

OSHA also asked the workgroup to consider comments received by the Agency regarding the paperwork burden of the standard. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), OSHA must assess the paperwork burden associated with its standards. During the deliberations of the workgroup, the Agency published a notice in the Federal Register requesting public comments on the paperwork burden assessment for the HCS, and establishing a 60-day comment period for receipt of them. The HCS includes a number of requirements considered to be paperwork under the PRA, such as labels, MSDSs, and written hazard communication programs. OSHA received 13 comments in response to the notice, and provided copies of them to the workgroup for consideration in their discussions related to reducing the paperwork burden of the HCS.

To obtain the fullest input possible in the short time frame involved, the workgroup heard oral presentations from the public as well as giving people the opportunity to provide written information. Presenters and commenters included representatives of large and small businesses, labor unions, government agencies, and professional societies. In addition, the workgroup invited several experts in specialized fields to provide testimony on selected topics. These experts informed the workgroup about their areas of expertise and provided insight into various options which are available in these areas. And OSHA's Office of Health Compliance Assistance met with the workgroup on several occasions to discuss issues related to enforcement, and provide written information to assist in the workgroup's deliberations.

A summary of public input has been included in Part IV of this report. In addition, a list of the individuals who appeared during the hearings, their organizations, and a summary of the testimony is documented in the minutes of the meetings. The minutes are Appendix D. Written materials and transcripts of testimony are available in OSHA's Docket Office.

C. Summary of the Workgroup's Consideration of the Issues Raised

The following is a discussion of the major issues discussed by the workgroup. It is organized by topic, and where specific recommendations have been adopted by the workgroup, they appear in the text with the relevant discussion material.

Issues Related to the Content and Quality of MSDSs

As noted above, the charge to the workgroup in the President's Report was to make recommendations to simplify MSDSs. Based on the public input and the expertise of the workgroup, it did not appear that simplification was, by itself, the real issue at hand.

OSHA's requirements for MSDSs are performance-oriented. The HCS lists the information that needs to be included on an MSDS, but does not specify a format or order of information to be followed. This was based on the rulemaking record for the 1983 final rule. Chemical manufacturers testified during the rulemaking process that they often provided MSDSs, but that their formats had evolved into company-specific approaches over the years. Thus there was strong support for promulgating provisions that would allow chemical manufacturers to continue using the formats they had developed prior to the adoption of OSHA's requirements.

After the standard was promulgated, it was clear that some employers, particularly small chemical manufacturers, wanted to have some guidance to help them comply with the MSDS provisions. In 1985, OSHA produced a non-mandatory form called OSHA 174. This form is a 2-page document which included blocks to be completed for each of the items included in the MSDS requirements of the standard.

When the standard was expanded to cover non-manufacturing employers, and EPA requirements added emergency responders and local emergency planning authorities to the users of the MSDS, the varying formats of different manufacturers began to be seen as an obstacle to effective use of the information. OSHA published a request for information in 1990 to ascertain what the public thought could be done to improve MSDSs and labels. The Agency received about 600 responses, and the vast majority of them supported a standard format for MSDSs. Knowing that the information you want always appears in the same place on an MSDS seemed to be a primary concern. There were other issues regarding the language used, readability, comprehensibility, etc., but the broadest area of agreement was that a standard format was needed.

The workgroup found similar agreement in the public input they received. The desire for a standard format for the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) was virtually unanimous among all of the groups/individuals presenting testimony. This included the chemical manufacturers, small businesses and groups representing labor organizations. All believed that a standard format would aid in understanding the MSDS and provide a more valuable tool for training employees.

Many commenters noted that the MSDS has become a tool for different audiences in addition to employers and employees. These audiences included emergency responders, toxicologists, health professionals, industrial hygienists, regulatory and transportation specialists. The commenters believed that this resulted in the MSDS containing data for these specialists that:
  • Was either not needed or not understandable to the average employer and employee.
  • Complicated the intent of the MSDS.
  • Caused the MSDS to be too lengthy.
  • Forced the MSDS to contain very technical information not easily understood by the average employee.
  • Made the information needed by the employee more difficult to locate.
While most of the commenters recognized the need for training of employees as an element of a hazard communication program, many expressed a desire for a standardized MSDS to assist in that training effort. While there was agreement on the need for a standard format, there were differing ideas about what standard format is appropriate. Most commenters supported the ANSI Z400.1 Standard for MSDSs; others supported a standard format that would be shorter than an ANSI MSDS.

For example, the American Dental Association (ADA) has developed a format that is two pages in length, and they would like their suppliers to use it to provide MSDSs to dental offices. The ADA MSDS contains most of the information that is included in the ANSI Z400.1 Standard. The sections missing are the Toxicology section (however chronic effects were asked for in the Health Hazard Data section), the Disposal Considerations, the Spill and Leak information. This format does not provide a place for questions related to the environmental handling of this material, how the dentists would dispose of hazardous materials, whether or not the material needs special handling, and there is no place for the manufacturer to discuss more than one material (i.e. it is not designed for a mixture).

Some of the alternative suggested formats emphasized information that was especially critical to the nature of the industry they represented. Others went as far as suggesting a specific type size to be used. There were suggestions that OSHA Form 174 be selected as the standard format. Some suggested that all of the very technical portions of the MSDS be removed from a standard MSDS and only provided on request as a separate document. Some of these commenters suggested that OSHA recognize their MSDS model formats as meeting compliance with the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard.

A number of these requests were for a version of an MSDS which emphasized immediate information that would be most helpful to the worker in understanding the hazards and protective measures needed to handle the material safely. This concept was expressed several times as the need for a summary paragraph to relieve the MSDS user from having to search the MSDS for hazard information.

Others commented on the complexity of language in portions of the MSDS as being an obstacle to understanding the information and perhaps not being useful to employees. Much of this testimony appeared to be referencing the toxicology information provided in the MSDS.

The workgroup heard testimony concerning the development and the content of ANSI Z400.1. This testimony clearly indicated that the development of this standard was by a consensus method and had the support of all groups that are impacted by the HCS. The groups that supported the ANSI approach include the chemical manufacturers, small business trade associations, labor groups, emergency responders, and several federal agencies.

The ANSI standard is also becoming a worldwide standard for conveying safety, health, and regulatory data. The ANSI format has been adopted by the European Union and the International Labor Organization. In addition, many countries are including in their national standards virtually the same ANSI format for an MSDS while others are stating that this is an acceptable format for compliance with their standards.

The ANSI Standard is divided into 16 different sections by type of information and by intended audiences. Each section is developed with the concept that the data provided in the section is tailored to the audience that requires the data. This means that the language level and information needs of the audience are taken into account when developing the information to be provided in each section.

A stakeholders meeting of the different users of MSDS information was held by the ANSI committee to gain insight into their needs. This activity led to a specific ordering of the sections of the MSDS to serve the immediate needs of several user groups. The two groups whose information needs were most critical were the emergency responders and the employees who handle the material. The information which these groups required were:
  • identification of the material;
  • hazard information - physical and health;
  • first aid in case of exposure;
  • emergency procedures, especially in fire situations.
Some of these information needs are similar in nature. ANSI Z400.1 was developed to provide the data needed for both of these user groups as the first portions of a Material Safety Data Sheet so that this information would be more easily located when needed. ANSI Z400.1 also requires the preparer of the MSDS to take into account the user group for which these sections are intended and to provide the information in terms which are most easily understood by these user groups.

The first five sections of ANSI Z400.1 contain the data most often used by both employees and emergency responders. It has been placed first on the Material Safety Data Sheet for ease in locating the data. ANSI Z400.1 also requires that the language needs of these two audiences should be considered by the preparer of the MSDS.

There was discussion among the workgroup members as to whether OSHA could endorse sections 12 (Ecological Information), 13 (Disposal Considerations), 14 (Transport Information), 15 (Regulatory Information), and 16 (Other Information) of the ANSI Z400.1 Standard since these sections are not related directly to occupational health and safety but concern areas under the jurisdiction of other federal regulatory agencies (e.g., DOT, EPA).

The 16-section MSDS as described in ANSI Z400.1 has become, "de-facto," an international standard through adoption of these sections by the European Union, ILO and several countries. The fact that Sections 12-15 relate to information topics which are regulated under DOT or EPA may be problematic for an OSHA endorsement of the full Standard. This jurisdictional dilemma should be resolved between OSHA, DOT and EPA to allow for endorsement of the full 16-section MSDS as both a US and international standard. The question of having each agency mandate separate documents to deliver and receive the type of information which is currently transmitted in the ANSI format of the MSDS seems to be counterproductive to the President's mandate to reduce paperwork.

The workgroup believes it would not be practical to expect that MSDSs could be generated in a multitude of formats to respond to different industries' specific requests. The MSDS is a document that has a wide variety of audiences and uses it must satisfy. While a standard format is desirable, it must be a general format that can be used for the generation of MSDSs that will satisfy the needs of all of potential audiences and uses. The need for a standardized format, summary paragraph, simplicity of language and multipurpose use of the MSDS could all be served through judicious implementation of the ANSI Z400.1 Standard. As discussed in detail above, the ANSI Z400.1 standard contains the basic elements that could satisfy all of these needs if it is followed by the all the preparers of Material Safety Data Sheets. An outline of an MSDS described by this Standard is presented in Appendix D to this document.

The workgroup also noted that this issue of a standard format is sometimes confused by misinformation about the alternatives. A recent article in the Chemical and Engineering News, a publication of the American Chemical Society, was brought to the attention of the workgroup because it discussed the development of "international MSDSs". In fact the documents referred to as MSDSs were not MSDSs but were international chemical safety cards, which do not contain all of the information that many MSDSs do. Thus the workgroup would like to clarify that while these cards are useful in some situations, they are not MSDSs and do not resolve many of the questions being addressed regarding simplification of MSDSs.

Upon considering all of this information, the workgroup decided that the existing ANSI standard approach to MSDSs represents the best compromise position. The introductory sections satisfy the need for simple information for employees and emergency responders to use, while the more detailed sections of data which follow can address the information needs of occupational health professionals and others who provide services to exposed employees. Given the multitude of uses and users that MSDSs must provide information for, this seems to be a balanced approach to addressing concerns while maintaining the efficiency of having one document which meets the diverse needs of the different audience groups. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

1) OSHA should endorse the order and section titles as described in ANSI Z400.1-1993, and strongly support the use of other recommendations from this voluntary standard. This can be done through release of an OSHA memorandum, an interpretive letter, interpretive notice and/or listing of the order and section titles as a non-mandatory appendix to the HCS.

The workgroup has received many verbal and written comments, particularly from representatives of small business, related to the proliferation of unnecessary MSDSs and the subsequent burden this proliferation creates. Because chemical manufacturers provide MSDSs downstream for a variety of business reasons, and because users/employers in some cases demand an MSDS for every product they buy, MSDSs for products which are not covered under the HCS are being developed and distributed. The level of technical expertise available to the small business is, in many cases, very limited. These employers cannot tell, for the most part, which MSDSs are covered under the Hazard Communication Standard. In many cases, for reasons of liability and prudent commercial practices, MSDSs for chemicals which are not covered under hazard communication are managed and included in the hazard communication program.

This situation would be improved if the MSDS included a statement indicating if the product comes under the Hazard Communication Standard because it is hazardous, and the HCS hazard classification of the product (e.g., flammable, carcinogenic, etc.) This information, provided on the first page of the MSDS, would give immediate guidance to determine which MSDSs are required for compliance under the hazard communication program and which ones are not. This will provide the employer with the opportunity for paperwork reduction and make it easier to do what every employer must do--conduct an effective training program for employees. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

2) OSHA should endorse the addition of a statement by the MSDS preparer which indicates whether the product comes under the Hazard Communication Standard as a hazardous chemical. The statement should also indicate the hazard classification type as defined in the HCS and its appendices. This information should be on the first page of the MSDS allowing users to separate, if desired, the MSDSs falling under the HCS from other MSDSs.

In order to aid in the implementation of the above recommendation (i.e. identification of hazardous materials on the MSDS) it should become a part of the ANSI Standard. OSHA will need to actively participate in future ANSI Z400.1 revisions. The workgroup believes that OSHA should support this change at the future ANSI meetings. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

3) OSHA should actively participate in future ANSI Z400.1 revisions as part of these endorsements. This would include providing the ANSI Z400.1 Committee the recommendations made by this workgroup.

The quality of the MSDSs, that is the accuracy and completeness of the hazard determination and health and safety data, was mentioned often by those giving testimony. One example of the problems involved is when an employer purchases a chemical from several suppliers and receives MSDSs with different information. The HCS provides the basic elements of conducting the hazard determination in the standard itself [paragraph (d)], in Appendix A - Health Hazard Definitions (mandatory) and in Appendix B - Hazard Determination (mandatory). To conduct a hazard determination one must consider all of these sources. While ANSI Z400.1-1993 provides a standard format and description of data requirements for each section, it does not cover provide guidance for hazard determination.

The workgroup believes that some chemical manufacturers, particularly those who are small businesses with fewer safety and health resources available to them, would benefit from having additional guidance to conduct a hazard determination. While it is not universally true, many of the MSDSs that have been found to be incomplete or inaccurate are from small businesses. The performance-oriented approach to hazard determination may not provide these types of employers with sufficient guidance to complete a hazard determination. If OSHA were to publish such a document, it could result in better quality MSDSs. The workgroup is also suggesting that this might be an opportunity for OSHA to establish partnerships with professional societies in the preparation of this guidance. Organizations such as the Society of Toxicology or the American Industrial Hygiene Association have technical committees which could work with OSHA on such a project to help promote a higher degree of technical competency in the area of hazard determination. The first approach is to provide for those people who prepare MSDSs a publication (in print or as part of an electronic product) which describes the hazard determination process in a step-by-step manner, with reference to existing resources such as chemical fact sheets prepared by state agencies and other groups. The resources currently available to conduct the literature searches necessary for hazard determination are much improved in accessibility than when the Hazard Communication Standard was first written in 1983 and should be taken advantage of in the OSHA publication. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

4) OSHA, possibly in partnership with industry, labor and professional associations, should develop a guidance document to describe, in a step-by-step manner, how to conduct a hazard determination. This publication should help small businesses improve the accuracy of their MSDSs and help users determine their quality.

Issues Related to Retention Requirements for MSDSs

A number of individuals presenting testimony believed that MSDSs required under the HCS must be maintained for 30 years. The HCS only requires MSDSs to be maintained in the workplace while the hazardous chemical is present. We believe the confusion in this area is between the requirements of the Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records regulation and the HCS. Under the Access rule (29 CFR 1910.20), employers must maintain records of employee exposure for 30 years. This is to account for long latency periods between exposures and manifestation of diseases such as cancer. Since many employers do not measure employee exposures, the Access rule has identified certain records such as MSDSs that would be considered substitutes for exposure records because they document that the chemical was present in the workplace. In this case, the MSDSs may have to be maintained for 30 years under 29 CFR 1910.20. However, the employer has the option of generating a record of exposure, such as a list of the chemicals present and the employees exposed to them, in lieu of keeping the MSDSs. The workgroup does not have a recommendation for this issue.

Issues Related to Labeling

While the President's Report did not specifically mention labels as an issue to be addressed by the workgroup, it was clear from the public input that there are concerns in this area as well. Thus the workgroup would like to address several of the issues raised, as well as to make some recommendations in certain areas.

Several commenters suggested that OSHA mandate the use of color coding or graphic hazard symbols on labels to improve hazard communication programs. They felt that this practice would facilitate training, make workers more easily aware of the hazards of the product with which they are working and provide a better handle on the management of MSDS by hazards. In addition, they feel colors and pictograms would alleviate language barriers and reading difficulties. No recommendations were made by the presenters as to specific hazard graphic symbols or color coding to be used. OSHA's current requirements are performance-oriented, and thus allow the use of symbols and color coding where appropriate but do not mandate their use.

A number of other domestic standards and international laws currently mandate the use of graphic hazard symbols on labels. In the transportation area, the US Department of Transportation (DOT), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) require that the United Nations symbols for hazard labels and/or placards be placed on packages that contain hazardous materials as one method to communicate the material's hazards for transportation purposes. The European Union (EU) and the Canadian Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) also require the use of pictograms on labels to represent the intrinsic hazards of the product. The symbols/pictograms used by these standards to represent a specific hazard, e.g., flammability, may be somewhat similar but not identical. U.S. workers are currently being exposed to IMO, ICAO, EU and WHMIS symbols/pictograms due to the large amount of imported materials being used. Whether or not these symbols/pictograms are included in the employer's training program is not known.

Only a few studies have been carried out to validate the ability of these graphic symbols to convey the hazard they are intended to represent. Results of a symbol study carried out by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in 1982 (Publication Report No. NBSIR 82-4285) reported the unanticipated finding of the relatively poor performance of several symbols widely in use, including some symbols required by DOT. This indicated that, under the parameters of this study, some of the hazards were not readily identifiable from the labels representing those hazards. A more recent study tested the validity of a set of graphic symbols representing hazards of relevance to the chemical and related industries (CMA Project #80-430-088, by Fairfield Consulting Associates, Inc. 1986). These hazards were: toxicity, corrosivity, oxidation, flammability, sensitization, explosivity, reactivity and irritation. Only four hazards were recognized by the symbols used and not all symbols in use for the same hazard were understood.

The results of both studies indicate the need to evaluate symbol/pictogram understanding before adoption. They also indicate that a clear training program on the meaning of the symbols/pictograms must be an integral part of their use to communicate product hazards if they are to be a useful tool in promoting worker's safety and health.

A small but significant segment of the population is color blind. The use of color coding alone to represent hazards will not be detected by these individuals and thus reliance on this type of hazard communication alone would not only be ineffective but also potentially harmful.

Some employers currently use an in-plant labeling system originally developed by the National Paint and Coatings Association (NPCA). Members of NPCA use many chemicals to formulate paint products, and often have various batches during a shift with different chemicals and hazards. They believed that a unique approach to addressing this type of workplace operation would best serve their members and protect their employees, and thus developed the Hazardous Materials Information System (HMIS) to address their needs. This system uses pictograms, color coding, and a numerical rating system to indicate the relative degree of hazard.

The HMIS was used by employers prior to adoption of the HCS in 1983. OSHA, in making a determination on whether this system could be used to comply with the HCS, noted the need for training to know what the symbols and the rating system means and therefore confined its use to in-plant labeling only. The recommendations made by the workgroup reinforce that decision and the necessity of training for the use of symbols/pictograms and a specific numbering system.

While the workgroup does not believe that OSHA should mandate the use of symbols, pictograms, or color coding at this time, it recognizes that such requirements may ultimately be included in an internationally-harmonized hazard communication system. This is likely to be the case since symbols are used in other major systems currently in place, and there is a widespread belief that they can convey hazard information in a shorthand form that alleviates concerns about literacy and comprehension. OSHA has informed us that the United States position on this issue internationally has been that comprehensibility testing be accomplished before symbols or text warnings are incorporated into the harmonized system. The workgroup agrees with this approach. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

5) OSHA should not unilaterally mandate the use of symbols for MSDSs and labels until symbol validation studies are carried out. The United States should insist on validation studies before symbols become part of an internationally-harmonized system. Should symbols become part of a rule adopted by the US, OSHA should require employee training on the meaning of the symbols.

6) The use of color coding systems as the sole means to communicate hazards of a chemical should not be mandated for OSHA labels. Should color coding be a part of a rule adopted under international harmonization efforts, OSHA should not make the color coding a part of the US system until the validation studies are carried out and training is required. Color coding should not be used as the sole means to communicate hazard to the extent that a color blind person would be deprived of necessary information.

Issues Related to Using Labels as the Sole Means to Transmit Information

Some commenters suggested that MSDSs are redundant or unnecessary in some work operations, and that employers should be allowed to rely solely on product labels to comply with the HCS. OSHA noted that the standard already provides exceptions based on perceived risk or practicality considerations in certain operations. For example, businesses with multiple work sites would have labels on containers and MSDSs could be at a central site or available on request (as per paragraph (g)(9) of the current standard).

(g)(9) Where employees must travel between workplaces during a workshift i.e. their work is carried out at more than one geographical location, the material safety data sheets may be kept at the primary workplace facility. In this situation, the employer shall ensure that employees can immediately obtain the required information in an emergency.

There is also an exception for work operations where employees only handle chemicals in sealed containers which are not opened under normal condition of use (as per paragraph (b)(4) of the current standard). In this situation the employer requests the material safety data sheet for a hazardous chemical only if an employee requests one.

The workgroup considered several other situations where it may be feasible to rely on the label without the MSDS being immediately available. However, the specifics of the availability of the MSDSs and information needed for emergencies for the situations discussed could not be resolved. It was decided that further experience with the exception granted by the change in (g)(9) would need to be looked at, particularly in emergency situations before it could be expanded to include other types of exceptions. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

7) The workgroup supports the current hazard communication requirement for a label attached to the container and the availability of an MSDS in the work area.

Issues Related to the ANSI Labeling Standard

The workgroup also reviewed ANSI Standard Z129.1 - 1994 as an endorsable guideline for the preparation of OSHA labels. The 1994 ANSI Standard contains guidance in preparation of a label for immediate and delayed hazards and recommendations for the "target organ" statements. The ANSI standard contains recommended wording for the various parts of a label, a general example of what constitutes a label as well as examples of various types of labels for different types of hazardous materials.

A label is designed to be a concise summary of the hazards of the chemical(s). Presently, OSHA requires (paragraph (f)(1) of the standard) the identity of the hazardous chemical, appropriate hazard warnings and name/address on the label of the chemical manufacturer, importer or other responsible party. The workgroup believes that the help provided in ANSI Z129.1-1994 for language to be used on the label and the guidance provided in this ANSI guideline will improve the quality of labels.

The language chosen for labels is very important. The ANSI guidelines represents the chemical industry standard for the preparation of the label and the standard is generated by the same consensus method as that used for the MSDS standard.

Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

8) OSHA should endorse ANSI Z129.1-1994 as a consistent approach for precautionary labeling.

Issues Related to Labeling of Lumber

The workgroup also heard from representatives of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers' Association (NLBMDA) that sending labels with every shipment of treated lumber is ineffective and counterproductive. The workgroup notes that OSHA considered this issue in the 1994 revision of the HCS, and included an exemption for labeling every shipment of solid wood. However, the Agency said that chemicals associated with the work that present a hazard in transit, such as wood preservatives, would need to be labeled on every shipment. This is to protect workers involved in the transport and handling of the wood, as well as for the workers receiving it at the workplace. It is the view of the workgroup that this exemption is appropriate as worded so no recommendation is being made.

Issues Related to Electronic Access

During the hearings, several business representatives noted the difficulty of keeping large numbers of MSDSs available at the worksite. A given work area may have hundreds of chemical products, all requiring MSDSs. A chemical product may be used in a number of work areas, requiring the company to copy and distribute the single MSDS received with the shipment.

In addition, product formulations may change over time, necessitating new or revised MSDSs. It may not be clear to a supervisor that these are replacement products, so the old MSDSs are not removed from the file. Over time, the file becomes cluttered with MSDSs that are outdated or for products no longer in use. This is not just a paperwork problem; it also compromises safety in the event of an emergency, when a worker has to leaf through scores of obsolete MSDSs to find the right one.

One answer is to utilize technology not available when the Hazard Communication Standard was promulgated. In 1983, personal computers were just coming into use. Cellular phones were not available. Fax transmissions were slow and of poor quality. The computer databases that existed were accessed on large mainframes. All that has changed. Modern information technology provides opportunities to manage MSDSs in a way that better protects workers, while creating fewer burdens for an employer.

One possibility is to keep a single paper file of MSDSs available to any of the employer's work areas via fax. An even more efficient system is to keep the MSDSs in an electronic database and provide devices and printers in each work area. The paper file and the electronic database could be managed by the company itself, or by a vendor.

Any centralized storage and access system should have the goal of improving employee access, not just reducing the paperwork burden. The standard itself imposes important requirements on any system for handling MSDSs, centralized or dispersed, paper or electronic.

First, the MSDSs must be readily accessible to employees during their shifts. This does not mean, as some have suggested, that an eight- hour delay in providing an MSDS is acceptable. Rather that MSDSs should be accessible whenever employees are at work, no matter what shift they happen to work on. The standard does not define "readily accessible," but two Review Commission decisions suggest that in some cases, fifteen minutes can be too long a delay. In short, any centralized system will have to be available during all working hours. An emergency medical technician treating a worker at 2 am cannot afford to wait until the corporate MSDS manager arrives at the office at 9 am to find and fax the right MSDS.

Second, the means to retrieve the MSDSs must also be readily accessible to employees. For example, if access is provided through computer devices, a terminal must be provided in each work area. Of course, employees must be trained to use the devices and the type of software used to retrieve the MSDSs.

Third, the system should be reliable. Frequent computer crashes, power failures, or phone connection problems would put the employer in violation of the standard.

Fourth, provisions must be made for emergencies. In theory, a centralized system may be less susceptible to emergencies. For example, a fire in a particular work area could destroy a paper file of MSDSs, but leave unscathed a centralized electronic system. However, the employer must have a plan for retrieving the information rapidly if an emergency, or maintenance of the system causes the shut-down of a terminal or phone line.

Finally, the use of a centralized system does not relieve the employer of the obligation to receive and use the information from the MSDSs in the company's hazard communication program. The point of a centralized system is to manage information more effectively, not to ignore it. If a centralized system is used, it must be made a part of an overall hazard communication program.

Appendix E emphasizes what the compliance officer expects to be in the written hazard communication program. This includes identification of a person who is responsible for obtaining and maintaining the MSDSs. This section should be modified to address issues regarding employee access, including how the employees will be trained to use the computer and use the specific software containing the employer's MSDSs. It also states that for producers of products there must be procedures to update the MSDS and the label when new and significant health information is found. Appendix E mentions that if you receive an inadequate MSDS you should request from the producer an appropriately completed one. If the producer fails to supply one, you should contact your local OSHA Area Office. OSHA should also consider modifying Appendix E to discuss further the employer's responsibilities to review the received MSDSs and integrate the information into the hazard communication program. It should also emphasize use of the information to design and implement appropriate protective programs.

The workgroup also discussed at length the request in the President's Report to address whether the standard should be reopened to modify it to consider employers in compliance if they give an employee access to an MSDS within 24 hours of a request, or immediately in an emergency. While some workgroup members thought there were some situations where this might be sufficient, i.e., where chemicals are less hazardous, or where the employer's complete program is particularly effective, they did not agree that it would be appropriate in all situations. Therefore, the workgroup did not include a recommendation for OSHA to reopen the rule to address this suggestion.

As a practical matter, however, we believe that implementation of the recommendations on electronic access through off-site MSDS management services accomplishes the same purpose, i.e., eliminating the need to maintain volumes of hard-copy MSDSs in the workplace. Given the current state of the art with electronic means for distribution and management of MSDSs, for most work operations immediate access to MSDSs kept at a remote site is both feasible and practical. Thus the developments in electronic access mechanisms should allow employers a number of options for the maintenance of MSDSs, and for employee access within a short period of time. It appears that the changes in technology bolster the current provisions for immediate ready access, rather than suggesting that a change in the standard is warranted to allow longer time periods for access.

While it was determined from discussions with OSHA staff that the current standard clearly allows electronic access, there were comments made that some compliance officers have decided that computer access is not sufficient because, in the event of a power outage, MSDSs would not be accessible. OSHA needs to ensure that the enforcement policy regarding electronic access is clarified for enforcement personnel. If OSHA adopts the recommendation of this workgroup regarding electronic access which follows below, the issue of access to information during a power outage will be required to be addressed in each workplace where such a system is used.

The workgroup believes the Agency should continue to monitor developments in technology and to encourage employers to take advantage of various means of electronic access to comply with the standard.

Issues Related to Electronic Transfer of MSDSs

Several small, medium, and large companies testified relative to the paper work burden created by the Hazard Communication Standard. While electronic access may not alleviate the absolute paper work burden as defined by the Office of Management and Budget, the movement and storage of MSDSs in a paper format can be improved by electronic handling. The use of faxes and electronic data bases should be encouraged. It should be remembered that the MSDS is only one tool in protecting workers from hazards; the ultimate goal is the training and assimilation of the information relating to the hazard so that the worker can take proper precautions for himself.

The workgroup learned that there are many types of formats for MSDS data transfer, including but not limited to:
  • X12.848 Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) format
  • CMA COLD Tape format
  • CMA Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) format
  • CCITT Group 3 (Facsimile) and Group 4 Raster Image format
There are also many internal schemes used by the information system data bases that store MSDS information for retrieval.

Furthermore, there are several technologies available to store and make available MSDS data for retrieval by information systems, including but not limited to:
  • Local Media, including fixed media (magnetic disks hard drives) or removable media (floppy disks, CD-ROMs, etc.).
  • Local Area Network (LAN) Single-Site Storage, including proprietary network and intranet (TCP/IP) storage.
  • Wide Area Network (WAN) Multiple-Site Storage, including proprietary network and intranet (TCP/IP) storage.
  • Internet Storage (World Wide Web), including both privately and publicly URL accessible storage.
We are also certain that the mix of technologies proposed for access to MSDS data will change over time.

The workgroup wants to encourage these efforts within the requirements of the HCS. This will mean that the employer must specifically assure in the written hazard communication program that employee access by electronic means will have no barriers from lack of training in use of the computer and its software. The employer must also give specific details of their plans to provide hard copy of the MSDS and what steps will be taken to provide the employee and any emergency personnel information when the computer is not available.

Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

9) OSHA should adopt the following policy regarding electronic access to MSDSs in lieu of paper copies kept at the worksite:
  • Working electronic devices must be readily accessible in the workplace at all times.
  • All workers must be trained in the use of these devices (including the specific software).
  • The employer must have an adequate backup plan for rapid access to MSDSs in the event of emergency, including an interruption in power.
10) OSHA should adopt a policy that specifies that the use of off-site MSDS management services, meets the requirements of the HCS only if MSDSs are readily available to employees, either as hard copies in the workplace, or through electronic means as described above (recommendation # 9). OSHA should make it clear that the use of an off-site MSDS management service does not relieve the employer of the obligation to receive and utilize the information from the MSDSs being managed to develop and implement a site-specific hazard communication program under paragraph (e) of the HCS.

Issues Related To A National MSDS Repository

The workgroup discussed the suggestion, made by several commenters, for the creation of a "national repository" which could contain all the MSDSs developed by industry (chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, etc.) for chemical products used in the United States. From this repository any MSDS could be obtained by the employer. OSHA provided the workgroup information regarding a feasibility assessment prepared for the Agency by Meridian Research, Inc.

The Meridian report stated that they found "no question that such a repository is technologically feasible". The electronic methods to collect, store, and disseminate MSDSs are now available. The problems arise with the question of whether or not the use of the database will be supplemental, that is as an addition to the current system of manufacturers sending paper or electronic copies, or if it will be mandatory, that is required for every manufacturer to participate in its usage.

The utility of a national repository depends on the completeness of the collection of MSDSs and the ease of access. The more complete the repository, the greater its benefits. This could make a mandatory repository of great usefulness. However, this places a greater burden on the small employer who, at a minimum, must have a computer and a telecommunications linkup to obtain access to the system. A repository, even of the replacement type, would shift much of the burden of hazard communication from the producers, distributors, and importers of chemicals to employers and users of these chemicals.

The workgroup's decision to have OSHA endorse a standardized format is a step in the direction of helping to achieve a repository (a uniform required format for MSDS is necessary to keep costs at a minimum), but there are more basic questions which would have to be answered before a national repository could be accomplished. The basic questions include:
  • Whether submission of MSDSs to the repository would be mandatory or voluntary.
  • Whether unique product identifiers (codes) should be required.
  • Whether the repository should supplement or replace the current hard copy MSDS distribution system.
  • Who would organize and sponsor the national repository.
Until these questions can be answered, the usefulness of a national repository remains undefined. There are some commercial companies who have available some fraction of the MSDSs necessary, but participation in these databases is voluntary and costs are established by each vendor.

There are also a number of other problems associated with the idea of a national repository. One involves liability for the accuracy of the information being transmitted. This might be a particularly significant problem for OSHA if they were to establish a repository because the implication could be that the Agency reviewed the MSDSs and agreed that they are correct. OSHA would never have the resources necessary to review what may be as many as 70 million MSDSs in a repository. If employers were to rely solely on this type of national repository, there would also be a concern as to what would happen in an emergency if the information could not be obtained in a timely fashion.

Another technical problem is the form in which the information will be transmitted. Many of the issues regarding comprehensibility and readability of MSDSs are dealt with in formatting, selecting appropriate sized type, judicious use of white spaces, and other elements of document design. If a repository simply transmits the information in ASCII text, for example, all of the document design adjustments for comprehensibility and readability are lost.

The workgroup does not believe that the development of a national respository is a viable suggestion for OSHA at this point, and does not recommend that the Agency pursue such an activity.

Issues Related to Employee Training

Through testimony heard by the workgroup it appears that employers are having trouble instituting effective training because of the lack of understanding of what kind of training is required by the standard, and how to conduct effective training. Some employers and employer representatives alike believe they have to train all employees on every MSDS they receive, and that employees must memorize all the chemicals that are in the facility, rather than understand the hazards of the chemical he/she is working with and what precautions must be taken. Labor organizations have testified that the training actually being done is in many cases insufficient, and this in part results from the performance nature of the training language. Other problems include training that is not geared to the education and skill level of the employees involved, and questions regarding literacy and the primary language spoken by the employees.

In order to meet the requirements of the hazard communication standard, the employer should train employees in some basic health and chemical principles by subject areas. With an understanding of the basic principles, an employee will be better able to protect themselves from chemical hazards. It should be noted that the following list of subjects represents a minimum. Each of the subjects has several categories which will need to be addressed. The employer will still be expected to communicate the essential information in order that employees can safely perform their jobs. Just telling an employee that flammable means a liquid having a flash point less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit is wholly inadequate. Within the subject area of "flammable", for instance, it may be necessary to discuss flash point, vapor pressure, lower explosive limit, upper explosive limit, bonding and grounding, etc. Employees will need to be educated in the process they are expected to perform. While this does not require that all employees be trained as chemical engineers, it does mean that employees are expected to have a strong command of these general subject areas and the specific hazards of their jobs.

General subjects should include:

Health Information
  • Routes of entry - inhalation, absorption, ingestion
  • Chronic effect
  • Acute effect
  • Target organs - carcinogen, irritants, sensitizer, corrosive, reproductive toxins
  • Dose response
  • Control measures - engineering controls, personal protective equipment
Chemical Information
  • Flammable
  • Combustible
  • Corrosive
  • Toxic
  • Reactive
  • Threshold limit values (TLV)/permissible exposure limit (PEL)
  • Handling requirements/storage requirements
Site-Specific Training

In addition, the hazard communication standard requires that all employees be trained in the following requirements which are site-specific:
  • The location of the employer's written hazard communication program.
  • The location of the material safety data sheets (MSDS).
  • The in-house labeling system that the employer will utilize.
  • Essential to the process of site-specific training of employees is the need to follow good principles of training that include:
    • A needs analysis which investigates what chemicals are in the workplace, how they are used, and with what controls. A needs analysis must also determine the unique conditions such as language, literacy levels, training equipment and facilities available, production scheduling restraints, and potential training delivery methods and resources.
    • Training development using content experts and employee participation.
    • Piloting of training programs and evaluation of the pilot.
    • An evaluation of the information retained by the employees upon completion of training and long term retention.
Essential to the process of training employees is an evaluation of the information retained by the employees once training is completed to determine that the workers know what they are working with, what are the hazards, and how to protect themselves through all aspects of their job requirements. The goal is to have an "effective" training program. Training evaluation can include short tests, worker observations and analyses of incidents involving employee chemical exposures, spills, fires, reactions, etc.

Discovering if the training has been effective and the employees are retaining the information given in the training, can also be accomplished by a brief quiz and performing the actual steps required to provide adequate protection. The quiz must be viewed as a way to assess the training not the employee. The following are some suggestions of topics that should be included in the evaluation.
  • Where is the written hazard communication program kept?
  • Where are the material safety data sheets kept?
  • Definition, purpose and use of an MSDS?
  • What information can be found on an MSDS sheet?
  • When is this chemical hazardous?
  • When you spill this chemical, what should you do?
The training should be performance-based, creative, interactive, job-specific, and tailored to the language and education level of the worker. Training must involve seeing, hearing, and performing the actual steps required to provide adequate protection. The workgroup believes that the standardization of the MSDS will make it easier for employers, especially small businesses, to provide this training.

One of the most persistent misconceptions about the requirements of the HCS involves how the training is to be conducted. The Hazard Communication Standard has never required employers to provide specific training for each chemical in the workplace or on each MSDS received. While this may be a preferable approach when there are only a few chemicals present, it is not likely to be feasible in facilities where there are large numbers of chemicals or where the chemicals change frequently.

It is unclear why so many people interpret the standard as requiring training on each chemical. In paragraph (h)(1), the standard states that:

(h)(1) Information and training may be designed to cover categories of hazards (e.g. flammability, carcinogenicity, etc.) or specific chemicals. Chemical-specific information must always be available through labels and material safety data sheets.

Similar statements have been made by the Agency over the years in compliance directives and preambles. It appears to the workgroup that this language is clear, and that OSHA's intent is to allow employers to choose whether they train on each chemical or devise a system based on categories of hazards to address larger numbers of chemicals.

Any training program must recognize the diversity of the workforce. Some workers are deficient in basic skills, such as the ability to read or perform mathematical calculations. Other workers may not be fluent in English. These workers have the same need for, and the right to, good chemical safety and health training. OSHA did not include in the HCS a requirement for labels and MSDSs in languages other than English. But the performance-oriented aspect of the training provision would require training in languages other than English, and special attention to the needs of workers without basic skills, when that is necessary to ensure the training can be understood.

At the same time, the employer's evaluation of his or her training program should not be used to assess or evaluate individual employees. The evaluation may depend on some sort of test, but the purpose should be to determine whether the training was generally comprehensible. Employees may not cooperate with the training if they believe it will be used in a potentially discriminatory manner.

A number of comments were also received about what was referred to as the "portability" of training, that is, what portions of the training program can be reasonably addressed through generic training performed by someone other than the employer. While the HCS itself does not address this issue, OSHA has included a discussion of it in Appendix E:

An employer can provide employees information and training through whatever means are found appropriate and protective. Although there would always have to be some training on site (such as informing employees of the location and availability of the written program and MSDSs), employee training may be satisfied in part by general training about the requirements of the HCS and about chemical hazards on the job which is provided by, for example, trade associations, unions, colleges and professional schools. In addition, previous education and experience of a worker may relieve the employer of some of the burdens of informing and training that worker. Regardless of the method relied upon, however, the employer is always ultimately responsible for ensuring that employees are adequately trained. If the compliance officer finds that the training is deficient, the employer will be cited for the deficiency regardless of who actually provided the training on behalf of the employer.

The workgroup believes that OSHA needs to address more specifically what portions of the training it will allow to be performed off-site and by someone other than the employer. For example, perhaps training about the types of hazards covered by the HCS could be performed on a generic basis. Some members expressed concern about the extent of training permitted to be met in this way, and wanted to emphasize the employer's continued responsibility for ensuring employees are properly trained. The workgroup believes that the discussions indicated there is confusion about this issue, and that OSHA should address it in more detail to alleviate this confusion.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of training depends on the employer's design and implementation of the training program. The workgroup has included two recommendations that when implemented should help ensure better training under the HCS, and thus improve the effectiveness. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

11) OSHA should develop "model training" programs, based upon the best existing programs and the experience of educators, industry, labor, professional organizations and others, which cover all aspects of the training required by the HCS. Programs should include general elements directly usable by employees, guidelines to assist employers in developing site-specific training and techniques which are sensitive to employees without basic language and mathematical skills. Programs should also include evaluation criteria to assess the overall effectiveness of the training provided. These criteria should be added to non- mandatory Appendix E of the HCS. The program evaluation should not be used to assess or evaluate individual employee performance.

12) OSHA should better communicate to industry, labor, professional associations and CSHOs what portions of the training, as currently stated in Appendix E, Part C, are meant to stay with the employee when he goes from one employer to another.

Issues Related to Enforcement of the Standard

The Hazard Communication Standard has long been one of OSHA's most cited rules. This is due in large part to the broad coverage of the standard. While most of OSHA's health standards cover a small number of industries and facilities, the HCS applies to some 3.5 million establishments. This includes large and small businesses, as well as every industrial sector.

Thus the number of citations is likely to be much larger than those for other standards simply because of the breadth of coverage. On the other hand, however, there are a number of stories about citations being issued for products that are seemingly innocuous, such as dishwashing liquid. An additional concern expressed by small business representatives is that citations of this type provide a disincentive for compliance. If an employer has made a good faith effort to comply, and has a good hazard communication program, a citation may still be

issued for a relatively minor deficiency, such as one missing label. Employers may believe it is useless to expend the effort to comply if they will be penalized for small oversights in an overall program. Thus the workgroup received input from a number of public representatives that while the HCS itself did not need to be changed, OSHA's enforcement practices should be reevaluated.

Based on presentations and information from OSHA's Office of Health Compliance Assistance (HCA), the workgroup learned that some changes have already been implemented in OSHA's approach to enforcing the standard. For example, OSHA may find that an employer has implemented all of the requirements for labels, MSDSs and training, but has not completed a written program. The Agency has issued directions to compliance officers that such employers should not be cited for the missing written program. Other changes in the approach to enforcement are being applied in the overall reinvention of OSHA and the Agency's approach to compliance with any standards or regulations.

While the workgroup recognizes the activities of the Agency to address these enforcement issues, it would like to make some recommendations that reinforce the direction OSHA is already taking to change the way compliance is assessed.

An "overall" approach to enforcement and consistency

Because the HCS is a performance-oriented standard, both the employer and the compliance officer must exercise professional judgment in applying its provisions to a particular workplace. OSHA recognized the difficulty of applying the standard uniformly when it was first being implemented. To help ensure consistency, the Agency assigned a person in each Regional Office to be the Hazard Communication Coordinator. Presentation materials were also developed and disseminated to the Regional and Area Offices. Interpretations were made available in a central location, and a detailed compliance directive was developed and periodically updated. The directive was also made publicly available so employers would know how the standard was going to be applied.

While these efforts were significant, there have been a number of instances where the standard has not been applied as intended when promulgated. It appears that these are isolated cases, but they have been publicized to the detriment of the standard and the Agency, and have caused misunderstanding in industry. Issuing citations for dishwashing liquid and "white-out" has resulted in public campaigns to trivialize the standard and its requirements, and to make the Agency appear to be pushing provisions that bear little relationship to occupational safety and health.

The workgroup believes that the overall effectiveness of the hazard communication program is what the compliance officer should be evaluating in the workplace. If the compliance officer finds that a program is comprehensive and effective, then minor deficiencies that can be quickly abated may not require the issuance of citations.

Assessing effectiveness must be an activity that goes beyond simply ascertaining whether required pieces of paper are present in the workplace. The key is to determine whether workers are familiar with the hazards in their workplaces, and know where and how to obtain any additional information they may need to protect themselves. Interviews with, and observations of, workers should be a measure in determining effectiveness. This is already suggested in OSHA's instructions to compliance officers assessing the training component of the hazard communication program.

If the employer demonstrates that employees are knowledgeable about the hazards, and are following appropriate protective measures, the compliance officer may be able to forego issuing a citation if the minor deficiency found does not affect the employees' safety and health and is quickly abated. The workgroup anticipates that this might be a situation such as a missing label or MSDS for a chemical posing little risk to exposed employees. In such a situation, if the employer can obtain the missing label or MSDS within 24 hours, OSHA could simply issue an advisory letter and put a notation in the case file instead of citing the employer. This helps to ensure that employers do not need to worry about a minor deficiency in an otherwise exemplary program, and thus provides greater incentive to implement a comprehensive and effective program. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

13) OSHA should adopt an enforcement policy for situations where an employer has implemented a comprehensive and effective hazard communication program, but minor deficiencies have been found. When these deficiencies do not affect the safety and health of employees, and are abated within 24 hours, OSHA could issue an advisory letter and put a notation in the case file rather than issuing a citation.

Issues Related to Enforcement of the Accuracy and Comprehensibility of MSDSs

Poor quality of MSDSs, conflicting information on MSDSs from various suppliers, and inaccuracies on MSDSs do occur. There was agreement among workgroup members that this was their own experience as well. Certainly MSDS receivers have a right to expect accurate and legible information on the MSDS. This information is necessary to protect their employees from the hazards of the material and the information on which their hazard communication program is built.

The testimony heard was supported by two studies conducted in 1991 examining the accuracy and comprehensibility of Material Safety Data Sheets. The studies were conducted by a contractor in conjunction with the National Center for Hazard Communication at the University of Maryland University College.

The studies looked at the accuracy and completeness of information on 150 MSDSs in five areas that may be crucial to the health of workers in contact with the hazardous substances: 1) chemical identification of the hazardous ingredients; 2) reported health effects of these ingredients; 3) recommended first aid procedures; 4) personal protective equipment use; 5) exposure level standards and guidelines.

Of the 134 MSDSs with identifiable components (99 mixtures and 35 single chemical substances), 49 (37 percent) were judged to present accurate health effects information, 22 (16 percent) presented partially accurate health effects information, and the remaining MSDSs (63 or 47 percent) were judged to present inaccurate information. The health effects information was the least accurate of the five information areas evaluated in the study.

Overall the study results showed that only 11 percent of the MSDSs were accurate in all four information areas. The study did show that the more recently prepared MSDSs (1988 to 1990) showed a higher level of accuracy than those prepared earlier (1986 to 1987). This study should probably be repeated with current MSDSs including those prepared in accordance with ANSI Z400.1-1993.

The second study on comprehensibility of the MSDS was much more limited. A strong influence in this study was the "substantial variability in the format of MSDSs". It was found not to be possible "in any systematic way to control or account for this factor". The workgroup finds this supportive of its recommendation for a standard format. The results from this limited study and a literature search conducted as part of the study indicated that, on average, about two thirds of the crucial health and safety information presented on MSDSs is comprehended by workers. The readability of MSDSs as well as worker literacy and reading grade levels appear to be important factors in the comprehension of MSDSs by workers.

Some workgroup members believe the "forces of the market place" should be the control for the quality of MSDSs. However, it can be inferred from those testifying that MSDSs can vary dramatically in quality. OSHA can be instrumental in this issue by recognizing the ANSI Standard for MSDSs and the ANSI Standard for labels as solving at least part of the problems with quality and comprehensibility. The workgroup's recommendation that OSHA continue to work with ANSI in adding information to the ANSI standard on the specifics of the conduct of a hazard determination should help improve the quality and completeness of MSDSs. CSHOs could then receive training on these ANSI Standards and have available the publication (or software) prepared by OSHA for conduct of the hazard determination in making their judgment of the quality of an MSDS.

The workgroup believes that the problems with small compounders and formulators will be helped by the publication recommended to be put out by OSHA (see recommendation # 4). Professional associations could offer outreach efforts to the small compounder and formulator and make the OSHA publication readily available.

A periodic, random audit of the quality of MSDSs and questionnaires to users may be of some assistance in determining an overall "state of the quality of MSDSs." The biggest assist in improving the quality of MSDSs will come from the adoption of a standard format such as ANSI and a harmonization of definitions between government agencies and countries.

Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

14) OSHA should develop ways to address enforcement issues related to the accuracy of MSDSs.

Issues Related to Inconsistencies and Outreach Regarding Enforcement

While it is clear that OSHA has expended a considerable effort to ensure consistent and appropriate enforcement, many of these activities happened a number of years ago. It appears to the workgroup that the Agency needs to revisit the issue of consistent enforcement of hazard communication to ensure that its enforcement staff is approaching it in the same manner. Thus the workgroup is recommending that OSHA repeat or continue a number of the activities it has undertaken in the past to help address the perceived shortcomings in its approach to enforcement.

These recommendations address several avenues of communication available to OSHA. The first involves external outreach to ensure that the standard is being properly interpreted and applied in the regulated community. The Agency needs to develop further outreach efforts to ensure that misinformation and misinterpretations of the requirements do not persist. This can be done through speeches, dissemination of written materials, or development of audiovisual materials. For example, OSHA made available to the workgroup a copy of the compliance kit it developed some years ago to assist small businesses in complying with the HCS. The kit was sold through the Government Printing Office, and thousands of copies were purchased. Perhaps the Agency could update and expand the kit, and make a new version available. It might also be possible to have a software version developed and made available to the public, including a fill-in-the-blank written program. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

15) OSHA should develop a system to address inconsistencies in implementation through outreach efforts with employers, employees, trade associations and professional societies.

OSHA also needs to address internal communication with the enforcement staff to ensure that everyone has the most up-to-date information about the HCS and its application. For example, the workgroup has recommended that OSHA endorse the ANSI standards for preparation of labels and MSDSs. If the Agency implements those recommendations, it would be appropriate to disseminate information to its enforcement staff about these standards and how they interface with the requirements of the HCS. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

16) OSHA should reemphasize the role of the Regional Hazard Communication Coordinators to improve consistency of enforcement and interpretation of the HCS.

17) OSHA should increase internal communication via regularly scheduled staff meetings and training sessions for CSHOs to improve consistency of enforcement and interpretation of the HCS.

Issues Related to the Scope of Interpretations

OSHA must make every effort to ensure that the standard is not inadvertently changed through compliance interpretations, and that such interpretations give consistent guidance. One example of the problem is the Memorandum issued March 21, 1995, by the Directorate of Compliance Programs on "Documentation of Citations Related to the Exposure to Hazardous Substances and Consumer Products", which seems to indicate mistakenly that compliance officers must find actual evidence of injury or disease before a citation can be issued for a consumer product. OSHA should ensure that its review process will find any inconsistencies before compliance interpretations are issued.

One of the greatest areas of confusion is the extent to which the standard applies to consumer products. The HCS currently exempts a consumer product from the requirements under the following conditions:

(b)(6)(ix)Any consumer product or hazardous substance, as those terms are defined in the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 1261 et seq.) respectively, where the employer can show that it is used in the workplace for the purpose intended by the chemical manufacturer or importer of the product, and the use results in a duration and frequency of exposure which is not greater than the range of exposure that could reasonably be experienced by consumers when used for the purpose intended.

However, a number of individuals presenting testimony complained of having to keep scores of MSDSs for ordinary household items. While the standard does not, in fact, require MSDSs for most of these products under most conditions of use, many distributors send MSDSs for all products, and employers often find it safer and easier to keep all MSDSs. The workgroup does not think it wrong for employers to have on hand MSDSs for all materials in the workplace, including consumer products. However, employers should know which are required by the standard and which are not, and OSHA should not issue citations for consumer products unless OSHA can document conditions of use meeting the definitions of the standard.

OSHA has sometimes been criticized for doing just that. Sometimes the criticism is unfair or misinformed. In some cases a consumer product like dishwashing liquid was mixed with a variety of hazardous chemicals, and the citation was issued for the mixture. In other cases, the product was used in a manner, or in an amount that went far beyond ordinary household use and the citation was genuine. However, in some instances, the citations were issued when there was no documentation about the exposure or about the particular hazards of the chemical. Most of these citations were later withdrawn, but they should never have been issued at all. OSHA could remedy this situation by issuing clear guidance to the field, which was the objective of the March 21, 1995 memorandum described above. OSHA should distribute an information bulletin to employers and employees with plain-language guidance on consumer products.

Any interpretations that are made should not change the basic requirements of the standard. It would be both technically and procedurally inappropriate to do so. Since compliance interpretations do not appear to involve a formalized participatory or deliberative process where all involved parties can express their views, the Agency should not be able to change, through interpretations, the requirements developed through the rulemaking process. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

18) OSHA should ensure that the Hazard Communication Standard is not inadvertently changed through compliance interpretations. OSHA should review the compliance memoranda previously issued and take any necessary steps to correct past confusion and inconsistencies.

19) OSHA should review the guidance given to compliance officers in the area of consumer products. When the review is finished, OSHA should distribute an information bulletin describing the application of the HCS to consumer products.

Issues Related to Increasing Partnerships

While the workgroup believes that OSHA needs to increase its external and internal outreach as indicated above, it also thinks that implementation of the standard would be benefited by the establishment of partnerships with employer and employee organizations. There are a number of employer groups in certain industries who believe they have specific implementation problems that need to be addressed. OSHA could establish partnerships with these groups to work together with them to resolve the implementation problems and encourage better compliance in those industries. The workgroup is aware that OSHA has done this on an informal basis with many groups in the past, but believes that formally recognized partnerships may be more beneficial for the Agency and the standard in the long-term. Identification of employers in these industries who have been able to comply effectively, and dissemination through trade association publications of ways to adapt the standard to particular industry work operations, may be a useful type of partnership activity.

The ideal compliance situation is where OSHA, industry, and labor work together to achieve the implementation of well-designed hazard communication programs. This can't really happen if OSHA, industry, and labor do not communicate. We are hopeful that increased partnerships between OSHA and employers and employees, which may be achieved through work with their trade associations or various professional associations or employee associations, will help to achieve the goal of a well-designed hazard communication program in every workplace. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

20) OSHA should utilize hazard communication as another opportunity to develop partnerships between OSHA, industry, labor and professional associations for more effective communication.

Issues Related to Harmonization of Classification and Labeling

OSHA has estimated that there are as many as 650,000 hazardous chemical products in distribution in the United States. In order to protect workers handling the chemicals at various stages in the distribution chain, and members of the public who are potentially exposed to the chemicals during transportation and use, a number of US Federal laws, standards, and regulations have been implemented. In addition to OSHA's HCS, EPA, DOT, CPSC, and FDA all have requirements related to hazard classification and labeling.

A number of other countries have developed information-based regulatory schemes to protect workers and the public from hazardous chemicals. While all of these laws are similar in intent (i.e., they are designed to protect people from experiencing adverse effects), there are significant differences in the specific provisions.

The result is a patchwork of conflicting and diverse national and international requirements. Because of the variations in classification criteria, the same chemical may be classified as having different degrees of hazard, and require different warning statements, depending on the classification system being applied in a given situation. The differences multiply when the warning statements themselves are considered. Symbols and terminology vary from system to system. Therefore, in order to market or ship a product, companies must grapple with these different systems and attempt to develop labels and material safety data sheets to satisfy the varying requirements. Currently, that generally means having multiple labels for domestic shipments, and three or more sets of labels and data sheets for products that are marketed in the US, Canada and Europe. This is a difficult compliance burden which small companies in particular are not well-equipped to handle due to the complexities and costs involved.

In addition to concerns about trade, the proper protection of workers and other users of chemicals is a primary consideration. Consistency in approach, and provision of complete information, will eliminate much of the confusion that users now experience as a result of dealing with conflicting or incomplete warnings. This confusion can ultimately jeopardize safety.

The workgroup has been informed by OSHA of a number of activities the Agency participates in that are related to international harmonization. For example, OSHA is an active member of an interagency committee convened by the State Department to coordinate US government positions on harmonization in various international fora. The State Department committee includes representatives of all of the Federal agencies with hazard classification and labeling requirements. The workgroup believes that this committee should be made a permanent one, and that OSHA should continue to actively participate. In addition, OSHA should continue its work in the international agencies to support international harmonization and achieve an internationally harmonized system of hazard classification and labeling.

While the internationally harmonized system is the ultimate goal, the workgroup believes that any degree of harmonization would improve the current situation. Thus if the international process should be postponed or halted, the workgroup believes that OSHA and the US government should work to achieve a North American System. And if for some reason this cannot be accomplished, the US government should, at a minimum, achieve harmony of domestic agency requirements.

Thus a tiered approach is most appropriate to accomplishing harmonization. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

21) OSHA should continue to actively pursue domestic and international harmonization of requirements for classification of hazards, labeling, and material safety data sheets.
  • To achieve the greatest possible benefits in terms of improved protection and decreased compliance burdens, global harmonization is the preferable approach. This would also accomplish North American harmonization and harmonization of domestic Agencies' requirements.
  • If global agreement is not reached, the United States should work with Canada and Mexico under NAFTA to achieve a North American system.
  • If NAFTA negotiations are not successful, the United States should, as a minimum, harmonize the existing requirements of different Federal agencies.
Harmonization of OSHA Requirements

In addition to the lack of harmony between international and domestic agency requirements, there appears to be confusion related to the substance-specific occupational health standards which were developed prior to the HCS. These standards may have different types of labeling and training requirements, and no requirement for an MSDS. OSHA addressed this issue in the HCS by indicating that the requirements of these substance-specific standards must be followed for labeling. In terms of MSDSs and training, the requirements of the HCS would supplement the requirements of the substance-specific standards.

Standards which have been promulgated since the HCS have generally referred to the hazard communication requirements and reiterated that they apply to the substance being regulated. This has been done in different ways, however, and there appear to be some inconsistencies.

The differing approaches to hazard communication in the substance-specific standards have led to some confusion among employers about which standard takes precedence, and whether the requirements really are different or are simply stated differently.

Other standards under the jurisdiction of OSHA may also contain some inconsistencies with hazard communication. One of these is related to the storage requirements of "flammable material". This standard contains an inconsistency in the definition of flammable and combustible. This type of inconsistency also needs to be addressed by OSHA for clarification and consistency in training programs. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

22) OSHA should review its substance-specific standards and other classification and labeling requirements and take action to make sure they are consistent with the Hazard Communication Standard. In addition, we recommend that future standards address the issue in a consistent manner.

Issues Related to Misinformation and Misconceptions About the HCS

The workgroup found that a number of comments made by interested parties were based on misinformation or misconceptions about the requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). Some of these have already been highlighted in the discussion of issues above. This has been a longstanding problem for the Agency, and OSHA at one point distributed fact sheets to counter some of the more frequent misstatements about the standard's requirements. The genesis of these incorrect interpretations varies. In some cases, it may be a genuine misunderstanding of the regulatory text. In others, however, it appears that incorrect statements have been made deliberately to skew perceptions of the standard's requirements and to make it appear unreasonable or unnecessary.

For example, a statement regarding the HCS was included in the Congressional Record several years ago which noted that the standard required employers to train their employees not to stick their heads in buckets of water because they might drown. This was clearly a colorful statement that drew people's attention, but it is completely untrue. Some of the other examples given in various contexts have indicated a lack of information about the hazards of the chemicals involved. A further note in the Congressional Record questioned the coverage of oxygen by the HCS, because everyone has to breathe oxygen and it therefore is not hazardous. But oxygen is covered because it is in compressed gas cylinders, and as such it presents hazards associated with compression. In particular, when there is a fire involving such cylinders there are serious hazards involved.

The workgroup believes that OSHA needs to address these types of interpretations directly to counter the dissemination of misleading and incorrect information about the standard. Therefore, the workgroup recommends that:

23) OSHA should develop a system to combat the spread of "misinformation" about the Hazard Communication Standard by instituting a systematic way of addressing both the misconceptions and misinformation through outreach efforts with industry, labor and professional associations.

Other Issues Discussed by the Workgroup

Small Businesses

Various small businesses and their related trade associations had a common theme to their testimony (both written and oral) to this workgroup for relief from some of the requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard. They based their request on the following factors which they perceive to be unique for small businesses:
  • Smaller size makes cost of compliance a greater percentage of overall profit.
  • Exposures to hazardous chemicals are lower than at large industrial sites.
  • Quantities of chemicals handled are smaller.
  • Variety of chemicals handled are less.
  • Automated systems to handle data/documents are too costly for small business.
A number of the small businesses suggested that partial exceptions could be made for their special circumstances based on one or more of the factors cited above.

The workgroup was mindful of these issues and concerns as they discussed the recommendations. Of equal concern was the level of protection afforded employees exposed to hazardous chemicals regardless of where they work. We believe that a number of the recommendations address some of the concerns raised, although they may not be the same remedy that the small business representatives suggested to address them.

These recommendations include additional OSHA outreach programs, development of model training programs (including OSHA hazard type), identification of OSHA hazard type on the MSDS, clarification of electronic access to MSDS, and enforcement practices which allow for assessment of overall program effectiveness with no penalty for minor deficiencies. These recommendations should ease the burden of compliance on small businesses, and they are discussed in detail in other sections of this report.

Small Quantity Exemptions

One of the issues raised by both small business representatives and OSHA's Office of Health Compliance Assistance was the possibility of a small quantity exemption. OSHA noted that this is not a new issue for consideration. The Agency included questions about small quantity exemptions in the request for information it published in 1990. Interestingly, while about 600 comments were received in total, only half of the respondents addressed the questions dealing with small quantity exemptions. And half of those objected to such an exemption. Thus only about one out of four respondents supported such an approach. And OSHA did not find any suggestions that it considered viable to implement such an approach in the supportive comments.

There are some valid points on both sides of this issue. For example, handling only small quantities can lessen the risk of overexposure to harmful levels of a chemical. An obvious exception to this concept would be if the chemical is extremely hazardous at very low exposure levels. Thus, to provide a small quantity exception both factors of quantity handled versus the level of hazard presented by a chemical would have to be considered. Another factor complicating the possibility of finding a appropriate solution in this area would be the type of use or length of exposure in the related industry.

As one of the workgroup members noted, allowing a small quantity exemption based on risk and determination of exposure over time would create more work for small businesses rather than less. It would be easier to keep the MSDS for the product rather than attempting to quantify amounts and exposures, and determining whether the chemical posed one of the more serious hazards covered under the rule. Ultimately, the workgroup decided that a small quantity exemption that could be uniformly applied in all workplaces could not be identified. In addition, workgroup members agreed that all workers deserve equal protection, and they could not quantify any small quantity exception at this time that would balance the above factors appropriately. Therefore, the workgroup does not agree that an across-the-board small quantity exemption should be developed, and further believes that such an exemption could actually increase the compliance burdens associated with the standard.

Issues Related to OSHA's Federal Register Notice on Paperwork Burden

OSHA published a Request for Comments Notice in the Federal Register of March 13, 1996, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, regarding the continuing collection of information for the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). Since the workgroup was asked to make recommendations related to reducing the paperwork burden of the HCS, OSHA provided the 13 comments that were received in response to the notice to the workgroup for consideration during its deliberations.

The workgroup noted that issues related to assessing the paperwork burden of the rule under the Paperwork Reduction Act were quite different than addressing the perceived paperwork burden of employers complying with the HCS. For example, the workgroup believes that the recommendations it has made with regard to electronic access will address the perceived paperwork burden for maintenance of MSDSs by employers. However, for purposes of assessing paperwork burden, an electronic record is still counted the same as a paper copy and thus electronic access provisions do not decrease OSHA's assessed burden hours. This seemed to be an important distinction in our discussions, and it appeared to be more appropriate to address the issues of concern to employers rather than the accounting mechanism employed for assessing burdens under the Paperwork Reduction Act. Thus as has already been noted in the discussions above, a number of the workgroup's recommendations address such issues.

A number of the issues raised by the 13 respondents to the notice were similar to those that the workgroup already heard during the public meetings or in written comments provided previously. However, several comments were received that urged OSHA to reduce the paperwork burden seemingly created by the MSDS downstream requirements of the HCS by undertaking a rulemaking that would have as its model the DOT Emergency Response Information (ERI). This is a requirement under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR 172.600).

The workgroup was requested to comment, and if appropriate to make recommendations regarding this suggestion.

The purposes of the HMR and the HCS are different. The requirements of the two agencies safeguard people from hazardous chemicals at different times during the life cycle of the chemical. Through the HMR, DOT is required to protect the public from materials posing an unreasonable risk to life and property when they are transported in commerce. During transport, hazardous materials are to be contained in sealed containers. That is not the case in the workplace. OSHA's HCS was implemented to prevent employee's injuries and illnesses by providing them with information about the hazardous chemicals they are exposed to while working.

The ERI required by the HMR is information that can be used in the mitigation of a hazardous material emergency and must contain, as a minimum, the following information:
  • Basic description (as prescribed by the HMR) and technical name of the hazardous material;
  • Immediate hazard to health;
  • Risk of fire or explosion;
  • Immediate precautions to be taken in case of an accident or incident;
  • Immediate methods for handling fires;
  • Immediate methods for handling spills or leaks in the absence of fires; and
  • Preliminary first aid measures.
This information must be immediately available during any phase of transportation.

The emergency information required by DOT, except for the basic description of the hazardous material, is largely required in MSDSs. In fact, DOT allows the use of the MSDS for emergency information purposes if all the required information is contained therein. In practice, the most used document is the North America Emergency Response Guidebook (NAERG)(1996). The NAERG is an emergency response guidance document, developed by DOT, that contains the required emergency information. Its entries are cross-referenced with two elements of the DOT hazardous material basic description (proper shipping name and identification number) which is required information on the material's shipping papers. In many cases, the NAERG responses are not chemical specific, but are generic by hazard class. The NAERG is to be used by first responders at the accident scene. It should be noted that DOT and OSHA do not regulate necessarily the same hazards. Nor is the definition of the same hazard identical between the two standards. DOT regulates immediate/acute and environmental hazards as well as hazards resulting from adverse effects by chemicals on the materials of construction of containers (e.g., corrosion). These hazards would be the ones of concern when a contained hazardous material is involved in a transportation accident. The information provided on the MSDS covers acute and chronic hazards, exposure limits, physical and chemical properties of a hazardous chemical, and other information associated with the need of workers to protect themselves from exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace. A chemical regulated by OSHA is not one necessarily regulated by DOT (e.g., a skin irritant).

Because of the different situations they are designed to address, the MSDS and NAERG cannot replace each other.
A 24-hour emergency response telephone number is required by DOT to be entered on the shipping papers of a hazardous material as part of the ERI. The phone must be answered by a person with knowledge or immediate access to a person with knowledge about the hazardous material and who has comprehensive emergency response and incident mitigation information of an organization capable of accepting responsibility for providing the information required. Many shippers have chosen to use the Chemical Manufacturers Association's CHEMTREC as the 24-hour emergency phone number. These shippers supply their MSDSs and phone numbers for one or more 24-hour contacts to that organization as a resource for the first line of product-specific information after a transportation incident. The shipper is immediately contacted by CHEMTREC for providing further in-depth information to the emergency personnel at the accident site. CHEMTREC can provide information from other resources such as Micromedex's TOMES PLUS by FAX and make contacts with other experts such as the Bay Area Regional Poison Control Center in San Francisco by means of teleconference 24 hours every day.

The DOT Emergency Response system is very efficient for emergency situations. However, it would not be appropriate for a program such as the HCS mandated to provide information to workers about the hazardous chemicals in their workplace. In another section of this Report, the issue of employee access in the workplace to the information provided by the MSDS (whether in hard copy or by electronic means) is discussed. The MSDS contains information that serves as reference to exposed workers and assists employers in developing appropriate training programs and health and safety practices for their employees in emergency and non-emergency situations. The viability of a national, central repository of MSDSs is also discussed elsewhere in this Report. The workgroup does not feel that the DOT Emergency Response Information system can be used to comply with the purpose of the HCS, and does not recommend that OSHA follow the suggestions made in the comments received to proceed with rulemaking based on the DOT system.

A comment was also received that mentioned the advantage of the DOT system in that each product/package must bear a WARNING label with instructions for safe usage and safe disposal in non-technical language. The label required by DOT is a diamond on point with a colored background and a pictogram representing the hazard of the hazardous material. A number representing the hazard class or division of the primary hazard must be placed in the lower corner. The name of the hazard class is permissible but not required. No instructions for usage or disposal are required by DOT.

In the final analysis, both the OSHA and DOT systems are useful in their respective spheres. While they could be further harmonized in accordance with recommendation 21, neither system could replace the other at this time.


PART VI - CONCLUSION

The workgroup believes that these recommendations respond fully to the tasks outlined in the President's Report, and the September 28, 1995, Federal Register notice. Development of these recommendations in the short time allotted has been a challenge, particularly since the issues regarding the HCS are complex and complicated, and the rule's current provisions are based on a long and involved rulemaking process. The workgroup members believe that the HCS has had a significant positive impact on worker safety and health by providing information to employers to design protective measures, and by giving workers the right-to-know the hazards and identities of the chemicals in their workplaces. We have focused on improving implementation of hazard communication and worker right-to-know in the workplace, and have tried to balance concerns raised about regulatory burdens with the need to maintain the levels of worker protection.

In particular, recommendations 1-4, 9, 10, and 21 are aimed at simplifying the preparation and use of MSDSs by endorsing an effective and uniform format, providing guidance in the hazard determination that is key to an accurate MSDS, stimulating the use of modern information technology, and moving toward an internationally-harmonized hazard communication system.

Recommendations 2, 9, 19 and 23, should help reduce unnecessary paperwork by better designating which MSDSs are required to be kept under the standard, allowing electronic access, giving better guidance to employers on consumer products, and combating general misinformation about the standard. Recommendation 2 on designation of type of hazard which can be directly related to "generic" training should also improve training effectiveness.

Recommendations 11 and 12 are designed to improve the effectiveness of training through model training programs, and a clarification of what parts of the training are generic and what parts are specific to the individual workplace.

Enforcement issues are addressed by recommendations 13-20, which discuss common sense enforcement, the accuracy of MSDSs, consistency in compliance directives and enforcement generally, and the need for reliable guidance for the regulated community.

Recommendations 5-8 generally pertain to labels. This subject was not specifically mentioned in OSHA's charge to the workgroup. However, effective labels are essential to hazard communication, and labeling was discussed by many participants in the public hearing phase of our deliberations.

The workgroup also discussed the request in the President's Report to consider whether the standard should be reopened to modify it to allow employers 24 hours to give an employee a material safety data sheet upon request (or immediately in an emergency), and decided it was not appropriate to recommend that the rule be reopened for that purpose.

In addition to these areas in the President's Report, OSHA gave the workgroup copies of the comments received in response to its notice on the paperwork burden of the standard under requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act. As discussed above, the workgroup does not agree with the suggestions of a number of those commenters that the standard should be modeled on requirements under DOT.

Most of the workgroup's recommendations can be adopted administratively. None of them requires a costly and time-consuming rulemaking. Thus, they can be implemented relatively quickly. In fact, the workgroup believes that a new rulemaking at this time would be unwise given OSHA's limited resources. A large number of countries and international organizations are currently working toward the international harmonization of chemical classification and labeling. It is likely that the HCS will have to be modified eventually to conform to a globally harmonized system. OSHA can gain more by participating fully in this work than by making regulatory changes that might well be obsolete within a few years.
OSHA is in a position where through policy and leadership it can affect major changes in the quality of hazard communication programs. The concepts, ideas, and recommendations discussed in this report can assist OSHA in exercising its leadership role. Technology, the composition and content of work, and work organization, are changing in the American workplace. OSHA must consider all of these factors as it moves forward with implementation of the Hazard Communication Standard in the future.

ADDRESS LIST FOR NACOSH HAZCOM WORKGROUP PARTICIPANTS

NACOSH Members
Chair, Henry B. Lick, Ph.D.
Manager of Industrial Hygiene
Ford Motor Co.
15000 Century Drive
Room 104
Dearborn, MI 48120-1220
Phone: (313) 594-6961
Fax: (313) 390-4237
Andrea K. Taylor, Dr.P.H.
Occupational Health Policy Consultant
Health and Safety Department
United Autoworkers
8000 E. Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, MI 48214
Phone: (313) 926-5566
Fax: (313) 824-4473
Michael J. Wright
Director of Health, Safety & Environment
United Steelworkers of America
5 Gateway Center
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: (412) 562-2580
Fax: (412) 562-2584
Kenneth J. Zeller
Indiana Commissioner of Labor
402 W. Washington Street
Room W195
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: (317) 232-2378
Fax: (317) 233-3790

Additional Workgroup Participants
Dr. Adria C. Casey, President
Catala Associates, Inc.
144 Dogwood Lane
Moneta, VA 24121
Phone: (540) 721-1532
Fax is same, but may experience difficulty
Pat Dsida, President
ChemADVISOR, Inc.
750 William Pitt Way
Pittsburgh, PA 15238-1333
Phone: (412) 826-3750
Fax: (412) 826-3753
Linda Hanavan, Manager
TSCA and International Inventory compliance
Cytec Industries, Inc.
Five Garret Mountain Plaza
West Paterson, NJ 07424
Phone: (201) 357-3373
Fax: (201) 357-3057
Whitney Long, Manager
Health Affairs

Replaced by Skip Edwards, Manager
Safety and Health starting March '96
National Paint and Coatings Association
1500 Rhode Island Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 462-6272
Fax: (202) 328-0587
Max Lum, Associate Director
Health Communications, NIOSH
200 Indiana Avenue, SW, RM 317B
Washington, DC 20201
Phone: (202) 401-0721
Fax: (202) 260-1898
Adrienne Markowitz, Director of Health and Safety
Retail, Wholesale and Department
Store Union, AFL-CIO, CLC
30 E. 29th Street
New York, NY 10016
Phone: (212) 684-5300
Fax: (212) 779-2809
Ileana O'Brien
Deputy Commissioner of Labor
State of Maryland
501 St. Paul Place, 4th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: (410) 333-4193
Fax: (410) 333-1771
Donald Rainville, President
Universal Dynamics, Inc.
P.O. Box Drawer X
Woodbridge, VA 22194-0396
Phone: (703) 491-2191
Fax: (703) 490-7001
Brad Sant, Director
Hazardous Materials Training
Firefighters Union, AFL-CIO
1750 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202) 737-8484
Fax: (202) 637-0839
Dr. Michele R. Sullivan
Director of Product Stewardship
Hoechst Celanese Corporation
P.O. Box 2500
Somerville, NJ 08878-1258
Phone: (908) 231-4480
Fax: (908) 231-2409

Special Presentations
Margaret Samways
RMS Systems, Inc.
640 Pennridge Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15211
Phone: (412) 431-5518
A. Thayre Talcott
Talcott Associates
3816 Jefferson Avenue
Midland, MI 48640
Phone: (517) 835-9635
Fax: (517) 835-9635
R. Greg Watson
Supervisor of Product Safety and Risk Assessment
AlliedSignal, Inc.
101 Columbia Road
Morristown, NJ 07972
Phone: (201) 455-4860
Fax: (201) 455-3345
 

OSHA Participants
Joanne Goodell
Directorate of Policy
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Room N3641
Washington, DC 20210
Phone: (202) 219-8021
Fax: (202) 219-4383
Jennifer Silk
Directorate of Health Standards
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Room N3718
Washington, DC 20210
Phone: (202) 219-7174
Fax: (202) 219-7125
Worker Right-to-Know Revisited:
Hazard Communication in the 21st Century

Background

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) occupies a unique position in OSHA's health standards' rulemaking history.
  • It covers more workers than any other single health standard--about 35 million of them exposed to hazardous chemicals in over 3.5 million establishments.
  • It covers all industries, and all sizes of facilities. For many employers, it was the first time they thought an OSHA rule applied to them.
  • It is a performance-based standard, establishing goals for compliance but providing minimal specifications for how employers are to reach those goals. This requires employers to use professional judgment to comply, and OSHA CSHOs to use the same type of judgment to enforce the rule.
  • It is a generic standard, covering approximately 650,000 hazardous chemical products. Hazards are defined, not listed by product, so the scope increases as new products that meet the definitions of hazard are developed.
  • It includes a downstream flow of information, i.e., chemical manufacturers are required to prepare and provide information about their products to employers using them.
  • It involved discussion of some controversial and unique issues, such as preemption of state laws in non-state plan states and trade secret protection.
  • Its "success" in any given workplace depends on people modifying their behavior when they receive information. Employers must use the information to provide better employee protection. Employees must use the information to participate in the protective programs. Together, these actions will result in a decrease of chemically-related illnesses and injuries.
  • Congress used the HCS to define the scope of EPA's community right-to-know requirements under the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986. This greatly expanded the target audience for the information to emergency responders and local planning authorities.
  • The HCS is Thus a Big Target
  • The standard is "big" in every way. It covers a lot of employers and a lot of workers. It covers many hazardous chemicals. It's OSHA's most cited standard.
  • OSHA has spent 12 years in rulemaking, from the proposal in March 1982, to the third final rule in 1994. In the intervening years, the rule was objected to, scrutinized, and criticized in every available forum, both legal (up to and including the Supreme Court), and administrative/political (OMB Executive Order review, paperwork hearings, congressional oversight, GAO studies). The Courts have endorsed the reasonableness of the Agency's interpretations of the standard.
  • The source of the criticisms and the substance of them changed over time. Initially, worker representatives objected to the scope being limited to manufacturing. After the 1987 expansion, non-manufacturing employers, particularly in small businesses, objected to being covered. The arguments are:
  • ...MSDSs are too technical; look different; vary in content.

    ...There's too much paperwork.

    ...OSHA covers too many substances; no risk to employees for many.
Validity of the Criticisms
  • The Agency and the regulated community have learned a lot about hazard communication since the rule was first promulgated. There is always room for improvement.
  • The approach that seemed most appropriate in the initial rule for manufacturers--performance-oriented requirements that would not disturb existing label and MSDS practices--did not prove to be the best for users. A more standardized approach to labels and MSDSs would improve the information provided on hazardous chemical products.
  • Many of the problems recited are related to enforcement rather than to the requirements of the rule. While these cases are seemingly isolated, some citations have been issued for products that are not or should not be covered, or for other minor aspects of an otherwise effective hazard communication program.
  • The perception of those not familiar with the HCS is that OSHA is covering products that do not pose a harm to any worker, and employers thus have to maintain extensive paperwork that is useless.
  • ...MSDSs are often provided for products that are not hazardous under the standard. Manufacturers do this for a number of reasons, including product liability concerns. Some of the critics assume that any data sheet is required under the rule--they don't realize that the mere existence of a data sheet is not an indication that the product is hazardous. Employers may believe that they are required to maintain this additional paperwork under the HCS requirements when that is not true.
Other Factors
  • Hazard communication is intended to be a dynamic process, not a one-time shot in the workplace. Awareness of the hazards of chemicals in the workplace, and of appropriate precautionary measures, should be a way of business for all employers.
  • The standard should be similarly dynamic. Its performance orientation allows employers and the Agency to develop new and more effective ways of complying with or interpreting the rule. As new technology or information related to the rule develops, so should employers' programs.
  • OSHA should continue or initiate activities to respond to legitimate criticisms and do what is necessary to ensure the HCS is up-to-date and effective. In addition, OSHA should try to address the other criticisms to correct the misconceptions regarding the rule.
  • ...Establishment of the NACOSH work group on hazard communication is a key component of the Agency's plans to address the issues raised in the Presidents' Report, as well as brought up by other individuals or organizations. The work group will have the opportunity to hear and to question individuals and organizations with suggestions regarding effective hazard communication, and to prepare a report with recommendations for Agency actions to address these issues. After review and clearance by the full NACOSH committee, the report will be submitted to OSHA.
The President's Report
  • The President's Report raises four issues for consideration by the NACOSH work group to address. It should be noted that while these issues need to be covered, the work group may also consider any other areas of concern that are raised or discussed. These issues are not intended to be limiting in terms of the charge to the work group.
  • Simplify material safety data sheets. As mentioned above, material safety data sheets have been a primary source of comment and criticism from employers using chemicals, as well as employees. They are often found to be too long, too detailed, and too difficult to read and understand. In part, this is because the sheets have multiple audiences, i.e., must provide employees information but must also serve as a primary data source for health professionals working with exposed employees. Their information needs are different, and the presentation of the information is thus of necessity different as well. But beyond these differences in audiences, there are legitimate concerns regarding the accuracy of the information, as well as the comprehensibility. Some of these have been addressed in the ANSI standard on material safety data sheets. The work group will need to determine what OSHA could do to improve the presentation of information on material safety data sheets.
  • Reduce the amount of required paperwork. This issue is related primarily to material safety data sheets. As mentioned previously, many material safety data sheets in circulation are for products that are not covered by the HCS. These are often the ones that are used as examples of coverage that is too broad, or paperwork requirements that are excessive. For example, data sheets are available for many articles such as floor mats, light bulbs, and electrical equipment. These products are not covered by the HCS since there is no potential for employee exposure. But the existence of data sheets gives the perception of coverage. The work group needs to determine if there are ways to reduce the amount of required paperwork, or to address the issue of paperwork that is provided but not required.
  • Improve the effectiveness of worker training. Effective training is critical to ensuring that employees understand and can use the information presented on labels and material safety data sheets. While many employers have devoted much time and effort to training employees, there has been relatively little effort expended to assess whether this training has been effective. The work group needs to address this issue by providing recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the hazard communication training provided by employers.
  • Revise enforcement policies to focus on the most serious hazards. This issue is also related to the perception that the HCS covers chemicals that are not hazardous or pose minimal hazards in the workplace. While there are legitimate concerns about focusing on products that do not pose a hazard, the lack of information about the hazards of a chemical presents problems for using employers as well. It is difficult to make decisions about the appropriate handling of a chemical when the hazards are not known. Some of the concerns raised are related to the coverage of consumer products which OSHA has addressed in guidance to the field (described below). The work group should determine whether there are other products where additional guidance is needed regarding enforcement policies, or other ways to address this issue through enforcement policies.
Related Activities

International Harmonization of Hazard Communication Requirements

When OSHA adopted the first final rule in 1983, it included in the preamble a commitment for the Agency to reopen the rule if the opportunity arose for international harmonization of hazard communication requirements. This was done at the behest of the US Trade Representative, and since that time, OSHA has actively participated in US government efforts to pursue harmonization.
  • Under current laws, there are a number of US agencies that are involved in hazard communication from some perspective. While OSHA has the most comprehensive standard--and one of the biggest target audiences--CPSC covers consumer products; DOT covers chemicals in transport; FDA covers foods, drugs, and cosmetics; and EPA covers pesticides, as well as having as yet unused authority for labeling under the Toxic Substances Control Act. These regulations are all done under different statutory mandates, and they frequently have different results. A chemical may be considered flammable for purposes of transportation, for example, but not for workplace or consumer products because of differences in hazard classifications. This is a major compliance burden for chemical manufacturers, distributors, and transporters.
  • There are many countries that have laws similar to the HCS in that they require labels or other written information. Canada, Australia, and the members of the European Communities are among the prime regulators in this area. While they are similar, the differences are great enough to require different labels and data sheets to comply.
  • Thus if a chemical manufacturer wants to market a product in more than one country, a multitude of labels and data sheets may have to be prepared. This is a barrier to trade for many companies, particularly small ones.
  • Since our rule is performance-oriented, shippers in other countries often simply use their required labels to ship to the US. Since US users are often not familiar with the various international laws, they don't know whether the information meets US requirements or not. Plus, there may be unfamiliar symbols and other information that is not useful without training on that particular system.
  • An internationally-harmonized approach would include: use of the same definitions to classify a material as hazardous--thus if a chemical is flammable it would be flammable regardless of the country of origin or the intended use. In addition, standardized labels and data sheets would be required. So, except for differences in language, one label and one data sheet would suffice regardless of the destination of the chemical.
  • Comprehensibility will be addressed in the development of the harmonized approach. The latest information regarding comprehension of symbols, appropriate phraseology, etc. will be incorporated into the system.
  • All US agencies would have to adopt the same system, thus eliminating the current domestic differences in classification.
  • The result for OSHA will be a change to the standard to adopt the internationally-harmonized system. This will address the concerns regarding comprehension to the extent possible, will standardize the presentation of the information, and will facilitate compliance by removing some of the performance requirements that require employer interpretation. Yet the system will still be flexible. So it would benefit both workers and employers, as well as the Agency. OSHA is an active participant in the international harmonization process.
The ANSI Standard for the Preparation of MSDSs
  • Under the HCS, MSDSs are actually prepared by chemical manufacturers. They evaluate the hazards, decide which of their products meet the definition of hazardous, and prepare appropriate data sheets.
  • The chemical manufacturers were largely responsible for the performance-oriented approach used in the rule regarding preparation of data sheets, i.e., specify the information that's required, but do not specify a format or order of information.
  • When users began to criticize data sheets, CMA decided it needed to be responsible for finding ways to improve them. Thus they convened a committee to develop guidelines for the preparation of data sheets, and ultimately had the guidelines adopted as an ANSI voluntary consensus industry standard, ANSI Z400.1.
  • The ANSI standard is a departure from CMA's previous position on performance orientation. In preparing the guidelines, CMA convened meetings of stakeholders--users such as workers, employers, health care professionals, and emergency responders. As a result, they decided to include an order of information and standardized headings in the standard.
  • Through the work of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), the order of information and standardized headings are now permitted to be used in Canada, required to be used in Europe, and recommended for use by the ILO. They are thus becoming, de facto, an internationally-harmonized approach to the order of information and the headings.
  • In addition to this part of the standard, CMA considered issues related to comprehensibility. Thus the ANSI standard includes some guidelines for document design and preparation that will enhance the communication aspects. And the order of information is also designed to address these concerns--the information of most concern to workers and non-technical users is at the beginning of the data sheet, including an emergency overview in simple language. Other more technical information, such as toxicological data, appears later in the document.
  • Many of the larger companies have already changed to use the ANSI approach. Thus data sheets are becoming more standardized. However, there are many companies that are not aware of the standard--or the type of guidance it provides--and are not changing. Some are still using the old OSHA Form 20, which hasn't even been reprinted in over 10 years.
  • Ultimately, when an internationally-harmonized system is completed, OSHA will probably adopt this order of information. In the meantime, however, it is certainly in compliance with the rule.
New Guidance for CSHOs re: Consumer Products
  • Many of the current "horror" stories circulating regarding the HCS involve application of the standard to consumer products. The standard already includes an exemption for consumer products when they are used in the same way a consumer uses them (e.g., window cleaner is used to clean windows), and in the same range of exposures a consumer would be expected to have (occasional window cleaning is not a concern). This was discussed at length in the preamble to the 1994 final rule. Consumer products are a legitimate concern under the HCS. Anything that is sold in a retail store is by definition a consumer product. For some industries--particularly construction--this makes all of their products consumer products because they purchase them from local building supply stores, etc. A complete exemption would severely restrict the standard's coverage for these employers. Thus products such as lead solder, muriatic acid, and various solvents would only have consumer product labels for information. Since these labels focus on hazards of occasional use and effects on children from accidental exposures, and were never intended to provide the kind of information regular and extensive users of the materials need to protect themselves, they must be supplemented by data sheets.
  • The problems encountered appear to be enforcement-related. Citations have in some rare instances been issued for consumer products with limited hazard potential or which may not have been used in a manner resulting in significantly greater exposures than a normal consumer would experience.
  • The standard balances the concerns of worker information with a common sense approach to the extent of exposure.
  • Guidance has been issued to the field to address these issues. It indicates the information the CSHO must include in the case file to document a citation for a consumer product, including listing the hazardous chemical(s) involved, and documenting the degree of exposure. This should help to ensure that the standard is properly applied.
Other Possible Issues
  • Comments continue to circulate regarding the possibility of electronic access to MSDSs. The standard specifically permits employers to use electronic access to comply with the rule. There is a big difference in the availability of equipment to access the sheets between the larger companies--which typically have greater numbers of data sheets and thus more extensive management problems--and smaller companies--which may or may not have the computer and modem equipment needed to access the sheets electronically. It should be noted that for most small businesses, the average number of chemicals is around 10. This small number certainly does not require electronic management. OSHA contracted a study regarding the feasibility of establishing a repository several years ago, and decided not to pursue this option as a result of the findings.
Some electronic options detract from document design elements that improve comprehensibility. Transmission in ASCII text, for example, would eliminate white space, bolding, etc. that make the documents more readable. This is a major concern given the interest in making the information more accessible and understandable. There are also concerns about liability for the accuracy of the information--anyone who managed such a repository could potentially be liable for the accuracy as well as for the availability in an emergency situation. In addition, in order for the HCS to work, employers must review the MSDS information to determine appropriate controls, etc. Some of those supporting the repository approach view it as an alternative to ever dealing with MSDS information. For example, it has been suggested that employees simply be given a toll-free number if they wish to see a data sheet and thus remove the employer from the process.

Issues related to electronic transmission and maintenance of MSDSs may be an appropriate area for discussion by the work group.

It should be noted that OSHA has developed CD ROMs to electronically distribute information to the public related to compliance issues, and other possible means to electronically convey information to the regulated community are being explored. As outreach regarding the requirements of the HCS continues to be raised as an issue, the work group may want to consider these and other means of disseminating information to the public regarding hazard communication.

Conclusion

The HCS has been a successful endeavor for OSHA. Awareness of chemical hazards and appropriate precautionary measures has greatly increased among both employers and employees. Now, however, the Agency must ensure that its activities support continued improvement of the interpretation and implementation of the rule, and the level of protection the rule provides. The NACOSH work group can assist the Agency in reaching this goal.


Appendix D
Summary of Presentations and Comments from the Public

NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH

HazCom Workgroup
Minutes of October 19-20, 1995, Meeting
U.S. Department of Labor
Washington, D.C.

The first meeting of the HazCom Workgroup of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) was called to order by Chair Henry Lick at 9:00 am on October 19. The following members were present (for all or part of the meeting):
Henry B. Lick, Chair * Mgr., Industrial Hygiene
Ford Motor Company
Michael J. Wright * Dir., Health, Safety & Environment
United Steelworkers of America
Andrea K. Taylor * Occ. Health Policy Consultant
United Autoworkers
Kenneth J. Zeller * Indiana Commissioner of Labor
Ileana O'Brien Dep. Commissioner of Labor
Maryland
Michele R. Sullivan Dir., Product Stewardship
Hoechst Celanese Corporation
Linda Hanavan Mgr., TSCA and Intl. Inventory Compl.
Cytec Industries
Whitney Long Mgr., Health Affairs
Natl. Paint & Coatings Association
Adria C. Casey President, Catala Associates
Pat Dsida President, ChemADVISOR
Brad Sant Dir., Safety & Health; Building &
Construction Trades, AFL-CIO
Adrienne Markowitz Dir., Health & Safety; Retail,
Whse. & Dept. Store Union
Donald Rainville President, Universal Dynamics, Inc.
Max Lum Assoc. Dir. of Health Communications
NIOSH
* Members of NACOSH

Approximately 40 members of the public were present. Members introduced themselves and described their backgrounds. A listing of names, addresses and short biographical sketches on all members was provided to the public. The committee approved the dates proposed in the Workplan for future meetings and decided that meetings would run from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm on the first day and from 8:00 am to 3:30-4:00 pm if there is a second day.

In the opening presentation, Jennifer Silk of OSHA's Health Standards Development Directorate, reviewed a paper she had prepared for the group, which had been mailed to the group previously. The paper discusses the major issues and establishes a framework for discussion. In briefly describing the standard, she stated that Hazard Communication represents the broadest health standard OSHA has, since it covers approximately 35 million workers in 5 million establishments. It is a generic, performance-based standard that covers 650,000 hazardous chemical products and, for many employers, represents the first time they thought an OSHA rule applied to them. She emphasized that the standard covers only hazardous chemical products but that material safety data sheets (MSDSs) are being developed and transmitted to users on lots of chemical products that are not hazardous and therefore not required by OSHA. Ms. Silk also discussed international harmonization and the efforts to set up an international system to classify chemicals, and US (and specifically OSHA) involvement in these activities.

She briefly mentioned the two related ANSI standards: one for preparation of material safety data sheets, and one for precautionary labeling. She said the first one established a standardized approach to MSDS format and that the workgroup would be having a presentation at the January 10-11 meeting by the person who chaired the ANSI committees for both data sheets and labels.

Following Ms. Silk's presentation, the workgroup discussed the Workplan and how they would undertake the assigned task, and the need to question presenters and engage in "lively" discussion.

Enforcement issues were then discussed by Tom Galassi, Division Chief of OSHA's Office of Health Compliance Assistance. He reviewed Directive CPL-2.238C which directs compliance officers to conduct hazard communication inspections as a part of every inspection. He mentioned that the directive provides guidance to inspectors related to deficiencies in the written program and in MSDSs together with definitions of "serious" vs. "other" violations. He mentioned a draft directive in process with implications for HazCom which covered paperwork and written programs. In discussions, Mr. Galassi agreed to give the workgroup copies of the current directive, plus the draft directive (if authorized).

In response to a question from the workgroup about how OSHA's training of compliance officers deals with electronic methods of training and/or distribution of MSDSs, Galassi said that in some cases interactive training modules might be satisfactory for parts of the training, but that typically they would not have the ability to give training about the specific chemicals in a particular workplace and that they would not have the opportunity for give-and-take questions and answers. With regard to a company that distributes their MSDSs by computer system, the inspector is required to check accessibility and any barriers to access. Galassi mentioned a March 1995 document which addressed and defined consumer products and articles. This will be provided to the workgroup. He mentioned another recent memorandum related to a requirement to update labels within three months (which will also be provided to the workgroup). Galassi mentioned the QUIP project which contains all letters of interpretation organized by subject that is electronically available to all inspectors and is also on OCIS, on the DOL Bulletin Board, and in the Office of Publications. A second system called OSCAR (OSHA System for Compliance Assistance and Referral) includes QUIPS, regulations, preambles to regulations, relevant case law, and other federal agency regulations for all regulatory subjects which is available to anyone. Galassi mentioned the availability of three CD-Roms: one for HazCom, one for HAZWOPER and one for Bloodborne. CD-Roms are also being developed for /process safety management, confined spaces, and lockout/tagout.

Galassi brought up another enforcement issue he said OSHA was looking into with regard to the availability of MSDSs which he said are currently required to be at the worksite during the workshift, and that is whether or not OSHA should consider availability within 24 hours, or via FAX acceptable. Workgroup members Wright and Markowitz expressed strong objections to such a change.

Another issue Galassi said was under study was "incidental Use" (very small quantity) of chemicals, especially in relation to dental products. He said they were also studying the current requirement that FDA package inserts were considered to be not a substitute for MSDSs and that perhaps package inserts could be modified to include the required MSDS information and thus made into a single insert. Workgroup member Dsida questioned the practicality or likelihood of this happening.

A discussion then ensued in relation to a workgroup member's question about the 1990 Federal Register Request for Information about MSDSs. Ms. Silk responded that there were 600 comments and that the general sense was that people wanted a standardized format. She also mentioned limited studies done on the accuracy and comprehensibility of data sheets.

At this point, discussion returned to Galassi's comment that OSHA was considering extending time of supplying MSDSs to 24 hours. Workgroup members Rainville, Zeller and O'Brien expressed strong disagreement with such a change. There was also discussion and disagreement with Galassi's definition that the change was from current availability requirement of "by end of workshift" which they felt was erroneous and in reality should have been "on site" when work was required. This discussion was tabled temporarily as the group broke for lunch.

The afternoon was devoted to presentations by representatives of small businesses and labor organizations. First was Michael J. Fagel, Corporate Safety Director of Aurora Packing Company. He stressed the importance of a good safety program reducing the use of hazardous chemicals and finding substitutes that are non or less hazardous. He said they are primarily concerned with sanitation chemicals. They have reduced the number of hazardous chemicals they use by 30%. He commented on the difficulty of reading MSDSs for even trained professionals and said that in their company they also have language barrier problems. They have used multi-lingual one-on-one training to try to overcome this problem. They have attempted to address the problem of substances taken out of one container and placed in an unlabeled one by making employees use color coded containers. They also number products and tie that number into a number on the MSDS sheet and label. As a safeguard, workers authorized to use chemicals have different color uniforms. He emphasized that his system was simple but it had to be for a 150-employee plant. In response to a question from the Chair as to whether he viewed OSHA's HazCom standard as being successful in accomplishing its objective, he said "Yes" even though he acknowledged that the standard was difficult to apply at times. He said he would like a standardized MSDS format and the use of "understandable" English. He also spoke from the standpoint of a volunteer emergency responder about the difficulty of dealing with so much paperwork.

The next speaker was Dr. David Whiston of the American Dental Association and a practicing dentist in Virginia. He emphasized that dental offices were very small (3.9 employees average) and very safe. He said he was not aware of any formal reports of chemical injuries. His major recommendation was for exemption of dental offices with 10 or fewer employees for four reasons: quantities of chemicals used are small; there are no reports of injuries; workers are prepared by education and training to handle chemicals; and costs outweigh benefits. Absent exemption, he suggested that OSHA: (1) allow small employers to provide access to MSDSs by electronic means or FAX in lieu of hard copy at site; (2) provide better guidance to manufacturers on how to develop useful MSDSs; (3) approve a model MSDS format for dental products; (4) redefine the elements of an adequate written program; and (5) exempt small dental offices from having to keep hard copies of MSDSs on office supplies. In response to the Chair's question of how he viewed the success of the HazCom standard in reaching its goals, he said it certainly had heightened awareness but had caused a lot of frustration.

The American Feed Industry Association (Brian Bursick/AIFA and John Ojanen of Southern States) began by responding to the Chair's question of the previous presenters about the HazCom standard's effectiveness. Ojanen said he firmly believes in the program and considers it very necessary but would like it to be streamlined and made more user friendly. He said a big part of their problem of excess paperwork was caused by chemical manufacturers issuing MSDSs for everything they manufacture, whether or not it is hazardous, to limit their own liability which reduces the significance of the necessary MSDSs. He said that they should limit MSDSs to hazardous chemicals. He also said it was difficult to keep employee exposure records for 30 years (and he thought it was 40 years in Maryland). He said MSDSs are hard to read and require information difficult for employees to use (like information sources, etc.). He felt that the most important information was: health hazard, flammability, symptoms of overexposure, first aid procedures, personal protective equipment requirements, and spill cleanup and disposal. A major point made was that because feed ingredients were regulated by FDA they should be exempted from HazCom. Ojanen also recommended that a list of hazardous chemicals requiring MSDSs be developed using existing lists from DOT, EPA, OSHA, etc. In his presentation, Bursiek again strongly urged exemption from HazCom of feed ingredients regulated by FDA and said something must be done to soften the paperwork burden brought on by the mass generation of MSDSs. He reiterated the problem caused by MSDSs being generated by suppliers on substances that are not hazardous. He urged OSHA to "reinvent" the HazCom program so that MSDSs are generated only for chemicals that have been scientifically determined to be truly hazardous. Asked by the workgroup if it would help if a fixed MSDS format had a statement near the top indicating that the substance was hazardous and why, his answer was a very definite "Yes".

Linwood Gilman, Chief of Hazardous Materials Management (DOD Defense General Supply Center in Richmond) manages most of the hazardous materials procured by the Defense Department and manages the DOD Hazardous Materials Information System. He mentioned benefits that have occurred as a result of the HazCom standard including improvement of MSDSs and use of the MSDS as a basic element of EPA's environmental regulations. He acknowledged the resistance of companies to a standardized MSDS format in the beginning but recognized that companies had changed their opinion and recognized the benefits as evidenced by their support for the development by ANSI of a standard format. He recommended that the group consider the impact on business and regulations of the rapid development in the electronic transmission industry in recommending any approach to revising requirements for MSDSs. He suggested we consider breaking MSDSs into sections geared toward specific user communities. He also mentioned the problem of an article which is not hazardous in the workplace but hazardous at the time of disposal.

The Society of American Florists, represented by Lin L. Schmale, said they would prefer a label-based standard and suggested OSHA should consider different communication systems for small vs. large business. Her organization has prepared HazCom implementation guides for their members who include growers, wholesalers, retailers--the whole floriculture industry. Additional confusion is caused by the coverage of growers by EPA regulations, which appear to have considerable overlap with OSHA regulations. She emphasized that regulations work best if easy to understand and administer, and she strongly encouraged more communication between government agencies. She said her industry strongly supports the objectives of the HazCom standard and is doing its best to comply.

Michael Sprinker, Director of Health and Safety for the International Chemical Workers Union, said that OSHA's HazCom standard has resulted in workers and supervisors being better able to understand the physical and health standards of the materials they work with and that we're far better off than before. He favors a standardized format, inclusion of incompatibility information on MSDSs, suggested we look at NIEHS hazardous waste worker training programs, and said it would be helpful if new MSDSs indicated what has been changed. He emphasized that it is important to remember in using computer systems that they go down and that in a fire emergency, the power goes off.

Michael Wright addressed the group as a representative of United Steelworkers of America, but mentioned that Steelworkers, Autoworkers and Machinists are in the process of merging. In reviewing the history and events leading up to the promulgation of the HazCom standard, Mike said that as recently as the late seventies, workers were refused information on chemicals and were not permitted to see their medical/exposure records. He said they had to fight the government and even OSHA, who wanted to set separate chemical standards, to get a HazCom standard which they say is now very popular. He then cited a number of cases in which the standard had been vital in protecting lives. He went on to say that he felt there was a lot of room for improvement in the implementation of the standard without modifying the actual standard and that the way we get information to workers, the way we collect information and the way we analyze materials could be done in a way that makes it easier for both workers and managers, and that the challenge of this workgroup is to find a way to do this. He emphasized that we must start with the absolute right of the worker to know the names and hazards of what one is exposed to. In discussing the problem caused by too many data sheets, he suggested putting the most important data sheets (those covering the most dangerous substances and those used in greatest quantity) in the front of the book.

At the conclusion of the presentations on October 19, copies of the ANSI MSDS standard were distributed to workgroup members.

The meeting resumed at 8:30 am on October 20 with a workgroup discussion of the previous day's presentations and the task facing the workgroup. In summary, the workgroup acknowledged that the major problem presented was caused by chemical manufacturers preparing data sheets for everything instead of just for hazardous chemicals, and that there was a desire for a standardized format and a simplification of language for MSDSs. With regard to training, Ms. Silk emphasized that the standard did not require training on each standard but only on categories of hazards, and that there seemed to be some confusion on that point.

The first presenter, Michael O'Brien, Assistant Vice President for Labor Regulation of the National Association of Homebuilders, said that relying on MSDSs as the primary focus of a HazCom program does not work, especially on construction sites where they work out of pickup trucks and the employers rely on labels. Noting that technology has changed, O'Brien said OSHA needs to review its HazCom program to see if there are other systems we could use. He said their biggest complaint is the paperwork burden. NAHB recommends the elimination of the requirement for employers to maintain MSDSs and believes that labeling requirements should be changed so that managers must include on product labels whatever vital information is necessary to help workers in case of emergency. They believe OSHA should make any additional information which cannot be put on labels available to health professionals in cases of emergencies through either an on-line system, 800 numbers or some other combination. NAHB also recommends allowing portability of training under HazCom so that employees can carry a card which shows employers that they have received basic training and only need information on specific hazards on that employer's jobsite. They recommend changing the requirement that employers must be trained on hazards to which they may be exposed by other contractors to a requirement that employers provide general awareness training to their employees on how to spot the hazards created by other contractors. They feel that all HazCom violations in residential construction should be considered de minimis and carry no monetary penalty for first instance citations. In answer to a question from the Chair, he confirmed that he believed in the concept of OSHA's HazCom standard but had a problem with the delivery.

Next presenter, Eamonn McGeady is President of Martin G. Inbach, Inc., a medium-sized (50 employees) company doing heavy marine construction of piles for piers. Half of his people are HAZMAT trained in OSHA courses. He displayed a thick notebook full of MSDSs that he issued to each of his employees. He said there is a need for common sense and suggested use of icons instead of complex chemical descriptions. He said OSHA ought to educate, inform and advise; then enforce. He would prefer a labeling standard with icons for use in the field backed up by a repository of more detailed information.

Next, Patrick Rowsey, Regulatory Analyst for the National Automobile Association (NADA), said that service, body and parts shop managers indicate that while HazCom training is understood and accepted by their workers, the actual use of MSDSs by employees for additional information is rare and the use of the MSDSs in training is made difficult due to lack of uniformity in the MSDSs. NADA urges the workgroup to recommend that hazardous information systems be standardized and that the consensus MSDS standard being promoted by CMA be carefully reviewed. OSHA should clarify the definition of consumer products with examples to help small businesses. The rule should be modified to require phone numbers on chemical labels to facilitate procurement of missing MSDSs. A non-mandatory HazCom written program should be published as an Appendix to the rule to reduce burden on small business. OSHA should delete the requirement that employers provide a written program and worker training to occasional "foreign" or "visitor" workers.

Printing Industries of America was represented by Senior Vice President Benjamin Y. Cooper, who characterized the printing industry as the biggest small business with nearly one million employees. Because they are small they don't have industrial hygienists or safety people, but they work with many chemicals with frequently changing formulations. While relatively few chemicals are toxic or hazardous, all come with MSDSs. They recommend that OSHA:
1. Immediately clarify to its enforcement personnel that electronic data is not only acceptable but in many cases preferable. The fact that Federal OSHA says electronic records maintenance is acceptable but field personnel say it is not creates difficulties.

2. Reconsider historical records maintenance requirements. Ability to use electronic systems will improve the compliance rate for records retention.

3. Work with companies, rather than citing them, to ensure they understand the information needs of the law.

4. Move ahead in requiring a standardized MSDS format.
Cooper provided the workgroup with a list of printing and publishing citations for FY 92-94.

In answer to a question from the Chair, Ms. Silk clarified that, under the HazCom standard, the requirement to keep MSDSs was only as long as the chemical is in the workplace.

Cathy McClure, Manager of Human Resources, Health and Safety for MSI, and Vicki Worden, Legislative Assistant represented the National Lumber and Building Materials Dealers Association. McClure described their major problem as the requirement to transmit hazard warning labels downstream on treated lumber with every shipment. She discussed the evolution of confusing interpretations related to this requirement. Moreover, she maintained that this label goes to the wrong people and serves no purpose. She stressed that their organization feels that the intent of the regulation is most effectively conveyed from retailer to employees and downstream employers through distribution of hazard warning labels on a one-time basis (and each time an update is required) and through the thorough training requirements already in place for the downstream employer and any contracted employees retained by either side.

Vicki Worden said that they strongly believe an MSDS repository would provide a common sense solution to the burdensome paperwork requirements. She said her dealers asked her to stress to the workgroup the types of paperwork problems they face and the extreme need to streamline this broad standard to allow more flexibility and common sense in the workplace.

Loren A. Anderson, Jr., Treasurer of the American Industrial Hygiene Association's Coatings and Resins Division, as well as an employee of PPG, said that AIHA suggests:
1. Harmonizing chemical warning requirements and the development of a global approach to hazard communication to ensure optimum health and safety worldwide.

2. Providing all hazard information in the primary language of the intended audience and in a format that is targeted to the audience's educational and literacy level to increase comprehension of the information.

3. Utilizing training methods that are performance-based, creative, interactive, job-specific, and tailored to the language and educational level of the worker.

4. Improving the accuracy, clarity, and availability of MSDSs through a standardized format that focuses the user's attention on the key protective information.

5. Including standardized warning signs and pictograms on labels of hazardous materials that clearly depict the types and levels of hazards in an understandable manner to ensure that workers are adequately alerted to the hazards of the products with which they are working.
Ellen Larson, Director of Government Relations for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, said that their 3000 members, who are mostly small businesses with many having fewer than ten employees, would like to reduce the paperwork requirements. They would like a summary on the MSDS and clarification of labeling requirements. They also support the use of electronic filing systems. They have a training program that was co-developed with the National Homebuilders Association and others.

Following this last presentation, the workgroup discussed issues raised by the presenters. The Chair mentioned some of the misunderstandings that had surfaced, like the erroneous belief that MSDSs had to be retained for 30 years. Ms. Silk mentioned the misconception that employers have to train on each chemical, and that they have to retrain a worker on each new job at a construction site. She also discussed the use of electronic access and the requirement that a company first obtain the data sheet and review it before using the chemical. The workgroup discussed the presenters' objections to the time required and training needed to do this effectively, especially in relation to small companies. They acknowledged that it appeared that most small companies simply collect the MSDSs and put them in a book that no one uses. Don Rainville asked that the workgroup hear more about portability of training.

Mike Wright mentioned what he considered to be another misunderstanding--the notion that the MSDS is the primary means for communicating hazards to employees. He said it was the tertiary means and that the first was the label and the second was training, or vice versa. The committee further discussed the fact that MSDSs are not being read and acknowledged that they found this very disappointing. They also talked more about electronic systems and repositories. Ms Silk promised to furnish the committee copies of a feasibility study OSHA had commissioned on the idea of a central repository for MSDSs.

Mike Wright mentioned, in summary, that during the two days of presentations there wasn't a single witness who said that HazCom was not a good idea, that people shouldn't have a right to know, and that the standard hasn't had enormous benefits. He felt that was significant--that people were asking only for fine tuning.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:25 pm.

NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH


HazCom Workgroup

Minutes of December 11-12, 1995, Meeting
U.S. Department of Labor
Washington, D.C.

The second meeting of the HazCom Workgroup of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) was called to order by Chair Henry Lick at 1:00 pm on December 11. The following members were present:
Henry B. Lick, Chair * Mgr., Industrial Hygiene
Ford Motor Company
Michael J. Wright * Dir., Health, Safety & Environment
United Steelworkers of America
Andrea K. Taylor * Occ. Health Policy Consultant
United Autoworkers
Kenneth J. Zeller * Indiana Commissioner of Labor
Ileana O'Brien Deputy Commissioner of Labor
Maryland
Michele R. Sullivan Dir., Product Stewardship
Hoechst Celanese Corporation
Linda Hanavan Mgr., TSCA and Intl. Inventory Compl.
Cytec Industries
Whitney Long Mgr., Health Affairs
Natl. Paint & Coatings Association
Pat Dsida President, ChemADVISOR

* Members of NACOSH

Approximately 40 public attendees were present. Members introduced themselves and described their backgrounds. A listing of names, addresses and short biographical sketches on all members was provided to the public. In opening comments, Mr. Lick called members attention to the contents of their folders including minutes of the October 19-20 meeting which were approved without change on the following morning (October 20).

The first presentation was by Chris Bryan, Safety Manager with Martin Marietta Materials and Chair of the National Stone Association's (NSA) Task Force on Hazard Communication. He pointed out that, although NSA's members are primarily regulated by MSHA, they are interested in these proceedings because MSHA has a hazard communication standard pending which could be influenced by NACOSH recommendations. He criticized OSHA's overly broad application (expanded to include sand, limestone and granite) and said it diluted its effectiveness. NSA believes that part of the problem lies in using listings by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to precipitate inclusion of a chemical substance under the standard. NSA considers use of IARC and NTP improper and requests that such use be abandoned. They said that other problems exist but do not lie with how the standard is written but how it is interpreted. They favor a standardized format. NSA also supports the written program requirement but suggests OSHA provide a model program to assist small businesses. Adele L. Abrams, Director of Governmental Affairs for NSA accompanied Mr. Bryan and participated in the questioning.

Representing the American Supply Association (ASA) and the New England Wholesalers Association, Maurice A. Desmarais informed the committee that 12 regional ASA affiliates had worked together to develop a two-volume MSDS catalog for their members to distribute to their customers. Currently the catalog contains 2300 pages with over 4500 MSDSs compiled by product and manufacturer. They have distributed over 160,000 catalogs at a cost exceeding one million dollars. They "question the wisdom of requiring an MSDS sheet at every job site for every product that contains a so-called hazardous substance" and complained that manufacturers made the paperwork problem much worse by issuing MSDSs on virtually every product in their line, whether or not it is hazardous. They have considered putting the catalog on a CD Rom, but the idea has not been popular with small supplier members. They would like to have a standardized format for the MSDS. Pat O'Connor of Kent & O'Connor's Washington Government Affairs Office accompanied Mr. Desmarais. In answer to a question from the workgroup, they stated that they included all MSDSs they received in the catalog, whether or not they apply to hazardous substances covered by the regulation.

The next presenter was Dave Luth, President of Axxis Business Solutions, Inc., who explained that he was not a hazard communications specialist but was involved in the electronic dissemination and retrieval of MSDSs. He works with many small distributors who lack technical expertise but rely on the expertise of the chemical manufacturer. Unfortunately, the distributors are receiving many more MSDSs than are required and so are distributing many more than they need to. This increases the cost to implement the program significantly and reduces its effectiveness due to the unnecessarily large volume of information. He would like OSHA to develop an MSDS workplace classification system to aid small companies that requires the chemical manufacturer to designate each MSDS as: (1) Required, (2) Recommended, and (3) For Information Only. Category (1) would require downstream dissemination; Category (2) would make it optional; and Category (3) would make it unnecessary. Dr. Sullivan asked if a statement on the MSDS such as "this is regulated or hazardous under 29 CFR 1910.1200" would help and Mr. Luth said it would.

George Ganak, CoChair of the Naval Supply Systems Command Process Integration Team, focused his presentation on the need to move into the "electronic age" and stressed their efforts to find better ways to link MSDSs to products. They favor a standardized format and think the ANSI Z400 standard provides a good format. He said the government currently assigns a national stock number but that a number of different brands fall under the same stock number making it difficult to find the right MSDS for a particular product. He would like to see the adoption and mandatory use of the Universal Product Code (UPC) since he feels very strongly that users need some sort of "standard license plate" tying the product and MSDS together in order to take full advantage of the benefits of electronic systems. They would then like to encourage use of the Z-400 format for paper MSDSs and the X-12.848 for electronic transactions. In response to a question from the workgroup on how changes to a product are handled, and when a new UPC is assigned, Ganak cited Guideline 27 put out by the Uniform Code Council that says if the manufacturer changes the product significantly enough to require a new MSDS, they will assign a new UPC number. The workgroup expressed concerns about what sort of changes would result in the issuance of a new UPC.

Representing the Workplace Health and Safety Council, Executive Director Jan S. Collins said that her members considered the HazCom Standard to be one of the most important ever promulgated by OSHA and therefore support its fundamental goal. They do, however, feel that there are administrative actions OSHA could take to improve its enforcement policy. One would be providing a meaningful exemption for de minimus exposures. The Council recommends that OSHA issue a compliance directive stating that citations alleging serious violations should be reserved for those cases where a HazCom program element has failed to address a hazardous substance to which employees are exposed at or above an established PEL. Another area of concern to the Council is the national harmonization of regulations. Ms. Collins mentioned that DOL, DOT and EPA all have jurisdiction over labeling, packaging and training related to hazardous materials and that sometimes the requirements are inconsistent. She then introduced Dr. Philip J. Wakelyn who is Manager of Environmental Health and Safety for the National Cotton Council of America. He emphasized the need for definition of "health risk" and stated that potential exposure to a hazard does not constitute risk. In this respect he stated that there needs to be clarification on the nuisance dust issue, and said it was his understanding that as long as the PEL is not exceeded there is no MSDS required. Dr. Wakelyn also urged that the MSDS format should require an Executive Summary written in user-friendly terms. He expressed the concerns of others he had talked with who felt that the ANSI format may have made the MSDS more rather than less complicated. He promised to supply additional information on this subject.

Three people made presentations representing the Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA). First was Thomas G. Grumbles, Manager of Product Safety and Occupational Health for Vista Chemical Company. He said that CMA members strongly support the goals of OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard and its approach that emphasizes labeling, employee training and use of material safety data sheets. He recognized that Superfund Amendments had extended the original scope to include fire departments, emergency responders, state and local emergency planning groups, and community organizations. He added that commercial pressures and liability concerns had caused manufacturers to create MSDSs for non-hazardous chemicals, thus adding to the paperwork burden for which OSHA has been blamed. His recommendations centered on standardizing and simplifying MSDSs and improving cautionary labeling. In this respect he made reference to CMA's efforts in developing a guideline for writing MSDSs which was later issued by ANSI as Z400.1 which includes an Emergency Overview. He also mentioned CMA's participation in the development of a logical format for chemical precautionary industrial labeling as contained in ANSI Z129.1 which has widespread acceptance and use in industry and is helping to improve consistency in labeling. In conclusion he said that CMA requests that NACOSH recommend that OSHA specifically endorse both ANSI Z400.1 and Z129.1 as effective vehicles for improving hazard communication.

Stephen E. Randall, Director of CMA's MSDS Central, said that CMA would like OSHA to (1) address electronic systems as a viable technology to house MSDSs; and (2) address electronic transmission of MSDSs as an accepted method for delivering MSDSs to customers. He said many companies are improving MSDS management by collecting MSDSs in a central location within their company and keeping an electronic copy up-to-date that can be made available immediately through their own central network to any of their locations/employees. A side benefit is that electronic commerce forces a reasonable range of data standardization. Randall feels that OSHA's endorsement of the use of electronic systems both to store MSDSs in-house and to distribute them to customers will accelerate the use of systems resulting in reduction of paper and improvement of the quality and timeliness of MSDS information.

Amy Berg, Safety and Occupational Health Consultant to DuPont, said that CMA supports the Hazard Communication Standard as currently written. They consider regulatory amendments unnecessary but feel that OSHA's compliance directive and enforcement practices should be re-examined; they feel that the compliance directive (OSHA Instruction CPL 2-238C) contains additional requirements and an interpretation that is very narrow, overly specific and too inflexible for a performance-based standard (section K.8(5). She also said their feeling was that training programs were too often judged on quantity rather than quality by OSHA inspectors. She said they believe training should focus on the most serious hazards and the steps employees must take to protect themselves, rather than training workers on all possible hazards. Ms. Berg recommended that OSHA direct whatever resources are available to the development and expansion of small business training programs. She summarized by saying that CMA believes that "OSHA can work with industry to improve the effectiveness of worker training, simplify its enforcement policies, and redirect its resources so that all stakeholders are focused on the real hazards in the workplace."

Mobil Chemical Company was represented by Bruce Larson, Manager of Industrial Hygiene and Allen E. Stupplebeen, Manager of Product Safety Services. Larson mentioned that Mobil is active in CMA, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and Organization Resources Counselors (ORC) who all strongly support the goal, structure and current content of OSHA's HazCom Standard. He said there was no need to reopen the standard and that needed changes could be made by modifying the current enforcement directive. They said they thought that the directive should recommend the ANSI format for MSDSs as a good practice but that the rule should not be reopened to require that usage at this time. They would, however, encourage OSHA to endorse the use of modern efforts of transmitting MSDSs. He also recommended that OSHA develop a model training program for certain industries and increase its outreach programs, holding more local and regional workshops aimed at small and medium sized companies. In response to questions, they said they provide their distributors with a CD Rom and have a centralized audit system to check for compliance. They will make an effort to supply us information on this.

The first hour of the agenda on Tuesday, December 12, was devoted to committee discussion. Important points from the previous day's presentations were summarized as being: (1) companies want an easy way to identify which MSDSs cover hazardous substances and thus come under 1910.1200; and (2) they want MSDSs that are easy to read and comprehend, with a standardized format. The Chair mentioned that MSDSs had existed before OSHA codified them and that they had always served more purposes than those under OSHA's scope. He went on to say that even OSHA's compliance directive was written in legal language and was hard to comprehend. Jennifer Silk mentioned a recurring misunderstanding of several presenters with regard to training requirements. She clarified the requirement by stating that you don't have to train on each chemical but can cover categories. She read the language of the regulation which everyone agreed was clear. The workgroup further discussed how many other misunderstandings there were related to the standard and agreed that an important part of the workgroup report should be a summary of misundertood provisions and clarification of them. The committee requested that it be furnished: (1) a summary of what OSHA has been citing; (2) compliance documentation; and (3) a copy of the Compliance Kit.

Presentations continued with the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association represented by Angus E. Crane, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Counsel, and Gary E. Marchant of Kirkland & Ellis. Crane recommended that the HazCom Program be made more effective by: (1) ensuring that hazard warning requirements are consistent with the weight of relevant, scientific evidence; (2) clarifying the term "positive study" used to trigger hazcom requirements; and (3) standardizing and simplifying the format of MSDSs. He further said the program could be made less burdensome by modifying training requirements to eliminate unnecessary duplicative training; (2) using clear thresholds based on risk exposure to trigger hazcom requirements; and (3) endorsing appropriate disclaimers on MSDSs stating that "the information provided does not necessarily indicate that the substance in a given application results in any exposure or risk to workers or the general public." Finally, he said the HazCom Program could be made fairer by ensuring that one product or company does not gain an unwarranted competitive advantage by: (1) eliminating the current bias that favors untested products; and (2) by removing unfair advantages gained by products regulated by other agencies (such as cellulose insulation).

Organization Resources Counselors' (ORC) Vice President Frank White said that OSHA's HazCom Standard has brought about significant improvements in the quality and accessibility of chemical hazard information resulting in employers and employees becoming more aware of the hazards of chemicals used in the workplace. He said that ORC is convinced that the current structure and language of the HazCom Standard are sound and should be maintained. He said that MSDSs have not proven to be "user-friendly", but that training and labels have emerged as the principal hazard communication elements. However, this does not negate the need for MSDSs. ORC believes OSHA should encourage use of a standardized format consistent with ANSI Z400.1 but ORC does not believe OSHA should reopen the HazCom Standard to require use of the ANSI format. ORC urges OSHA to provide additional outreach and assistance in the use of electronic information systems that can assist small business in managing the burden of maintaining MSDSs more efficiently. ORC also suggests OSHA update its "Hazard Communication Compliance Kit", which is available to the public through the U.S. Government Printing Office. He said that several sections are out of date. ORC believes OSHA compliance personnel should "focus on evaluation of the overall effectiveness of an employer's hazard communication program rather than looking for isolated infractions of the standard's requirement." OSHA should rethink its entire approach to HazCom enforcement, put CPL 2.238C aside, and start over using a "holistic", performance-oriented approach to compliance.

Also representing ORC was Carolyn Phillips, Industrial Hygiene Advisor for both Shell Chemical Company and Shell Oil Products Company. She said she believes the HazCom Standard is one of the best, most useful and comprehensive standards that OSHA has promulgated. Shell has standardized their MSDS format to match that recommended by ANSI. She said many of their customers request MSDSs by electronic transmission and in the ANSI format. She supports OSHA encouraging the use of the ANSI format by all MSDS producers and does not think OSHA should develop a two-page MSDS format or mandate any specific format, although Shell favors use of the ANSI MSDS format and also the ANSI label format. Ms. Phillips said that OSHA should clarify that addressing classes of hazards meets requirements and is a good approach for training workers. She brought copies of Shell's MSDS Users' Guide and their HazCom Video Instructors Manual. She said OSHA could improve their training assistance by: (1) updating their generic, overall HazCom Program guidance using up-to-date graphics and current technology; (2) encouraging trade associations of small to mid-size employers in a particular industry to make simple HazCom Programs available to their members; and (3) providing information on basic hazcom training including a list of training resources to employers who need assistance. In discussing the overall program, Ms. Phillips said that "the culprit is enforcement, not the standard." She said the HazCom Standard is written as a performance standard and should be enforced as such. She said she saw no need to re-open the HazCom Standard and said that any significant changes in the standard could likely result in much more burden for those employers with programs in place while not solving the issue of those not in compliance with the core concepts of the HazCom Standard. In discussion about Shell audits of training effectiveness, the workgroup asked if she could supply any written protocols.

Jason Scriven of 3E Company appeared in conjunction with the International Mass Retailers Association. 3E Company provides hazardous materials information services to more than 50,000 locations worldwide. Scriven urged the workgroup to recommend use of a centralized MSDS management and support system where "100% of the American workforce can pick up the phone and obtain an MSDS easily and quickly." He proposed that the following be added to the HazCom Standard as 1910.1200(g):

"It is acceptable to manage MSDS from a central database or library, for the purpose of providing MSDS to employees, distributing MSDS to downline customers or maintaining MSDS for multiple locations, as long as no barriers to immediate employee access in each workplace are created by such options, and so long as in-person support is available to assist in identifying the MSDS and understanding the information contained in the MSDS. The MSDS provided by a central source must be the most current, product specific MSDS available from the manufacturer. It is acceptable for a wholesale distributor to manage MSDS from a central location, provided that there are no barriers to access for customers who previously would have received MSDS with each shipment."

Philip A. Scearcy, Occupational Safety and Health Consultant for the Minnesota Regional Poison Center, and Robert L. Weir, Director of Risk Management for Rhodes, Inc., discussed the possible Use of Regional Poison Control Centers for the electronic transfer of MSDSs via FAX or computer to meet the requirements of the HazCom Standard. They emphasized that these programs were not a substitution for employee training but rather a supplemental aspect. They would like OSHA to determine that such a program meets the requirements of the HazCom Standard.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) was represented by Colette Mlynarek, API Senior Regulatory Analyst, Steve Killiany, Health and Safety Advisor with Exxon, and Frank Nitsch, Industrial Hygienist with Amoco. Ms. Mlynarek emphasized that API believes that the HazCom Standard is an effective performance oriented standard. API believes that some enhancements could be useful in improving its effectiveness, but thinks they can be made without additional rulemaking. They recommend: (1) a uniform format for all MSDSs, (2) a cooperative industry and labor initiative to improve training; and (3) revision of OSHA's enforcement policy to provide outreach and consultation services especially to smaller businesses rather than the current punitive approach for violations that are often for non-hazardous and paperwork compliance issues. Ms. Mlynarek stated that MSDSs were never meant to stand alone but are part of a three-part system including training, MSDSs and labels. API thinks limiting the length of MSDSs is impractical and encourages use of the ANSI standardized format for MSDSs. They feel many of the problems attributed to the HazCom Standard stem from OSHA's enforcement policies, rather than the actual requirements of the rule. API supports development of new guidance for OSHA compliance personnel. API questions OSHA's logic in trying to reduce the paperwork burden and says that recognition needs to be given to the benefit of MSDSs. API is concerned that by focusing on the MSDS burden hours, OSHA has lost sight of other areas where more fruitful reductions could be achieved.

Steve Killiany reiterated the belief that imposing limitations on the length of MSDSs would be impractical because the comprehensive audience served with different information needs requires a comprehensive information sheet. He does, however, favor establishment of the ANSI Z100.1 format as a standard. He does not think OSHA needs to reopen the rule to do this because the marketplace is driving and supporting the use of the ANSI format both domestically and internationally. He did, however, recommend that OSHA replace the old OSHA Form 20 with a non-mandatory example of the ANSI format. He also recommends that OSHA support the philosophy of electronic data systems and the efforts of business to adopt such systems for MSDS dissemination. He also asks OSHA to support consistency in both domestic and international hazard communication issues, citing inconsistencies among Federal agencies with regard to definitions and requirements.

Frank Nitsch discussed training and said focus should be on content rather than on a stipulated number of hours, and that testing employees' understanding was an important facet of an effective program. He said the training program provides a unique opportunity for OSHA, industry and labor to work together to help small businesses comply with the requirements. He added that use of a standardized MSDS format would aid the training effort. He said API supports development of new guidance for compliance personnel such as that suggested in the new policy directive CPL 2.111 emphasizing evaluation of overall adequacy. In summary, he said that "the standard is working efficiently and effectively and that it is not a likely source for reducing paperwork burden."

Pam Susi represented the Center to Protect Workers Rights on behalf of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO. She stated that they consider the HazCom Standard to be one of the most important rules enforced by OSHA. But she said that we have not yet seen the intent of the standard fully realized in their industry because workers are still unaware of the hazardous nature of the materials they work with. She recommended: (1) standardizing the format, simplifying the language, and requiring manufacturers to assess the accuracy of MSDS annually; (2) requiring MSDSs to be specific to products/materials posing exposure hazards on the specific job site to reduce unnecessary paperwork and increase useability; (3) requiring employers to designate personnel responsible for implementing the HazCom Program; (4) upgrading labeling requirements (large print, simple language); and (5) continuing the requirement for site-specific, "hard copies" of MSDSs at the site. She also recommended establishment of minimum training requirements and training grants for the construction industry.

The final presenter was Laurie M. Shelby, Manager of Industrial Hygiene Programs and Regulatory Compliance for Reynolds Metals Company. Ms. Shelby is project manager for the company-wide initiative to develop an electronic storage and retrieval system for MSDSs and container labels. Reynolds has over 44,000 MSDSs for products they use. They also produce 500 MSDSs for products they manufacture and use the ANSI Z400.1 format. She recommends that OSHA adopt the ANSI format as a mandatory appendix and the Electronic Data Interchange format for MSDSs (ANSI 848) as a non-mandatory approach. She mentioned that many of their customers demand MSDSs on products that have been determined to be non-hazardous. She recommended that OSHA strengthen guidance on hazard determination making it less performance oriented. It should specify required references, testing procedures and standards that should be used by manufacturers to determine hazards and better define the parameters which make a product hazardous. She cited the Canadian Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System as a good example to follow. She also recommended that as part of the hazard determination, manufacturers classify their products into a hazard clas system defined in the HazCom Standard and said this would be helpful in worker training and labeling. She also recommended that OSHA require a chemical tracking and inventory system, and provide a means or guide for worker training.

Contained in Workgroup members' folders were comments submitted by the American Trucking Association and the National Funeral Directors Association.

The workgroup then discussed the agenda for the January 10-11 meeting (this meeting as well as the February 7-8 meeting was later cancelled) and the need to start devising an outline for the final report. The Chair asked members to bring outlines of the issues to the next meeting. Further discussion indicated that it would be helpful if members outlined what all of the issues were, which ones the workgroup could make recommendations on, and what those recommendations might be. The schedule for completion of the report was reviewed and clarified.

Pat Dsida agreed to FAX all members a list of the issues for comment and suggested additions before the January meeting.

In summing up the presentations, Chairman Lick said that presenters were in agreement that the standard was good and that the rule should not be reopened, but that improvements were needed in the compliance program. All favored a standardized format but did not think the rule should be reopened to mandate one. He said there was a need to dispel the belief that the OSHA HazCom Standard had caused problems and that the public should recognize that problems had been caused by increased use of MSDSs for many other purposes than those specified in OSHA's HazCom Standard. Mike Wright emphasized that the enforcement issue would be troublesome and said that the enforcement history could be helpful and was needed before the January meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:45 pm.

COMMENTS RECEIVED AND TRANSMITTED TO NACOSH HAZCOM WORKGROUP

1. FAX dated 10/11/95 from Ernest Isenberg, Western Extralite Company, with 4/12/95 Recommendations attached. Comments favor a central repository of MSDSs, warning labels containing safe usage, disposal and first aid information, a product identification code, and an MSDS Hot Line number. Given to Workgroup 10/19/95 in meeting folder.

2. Letter dated 9/29/95 from Scott C. Morrison. He recommends adoption of the ANSI standard for MSDSs to improve overall quality. Given to Workgroup 10/19/95 in meeting folder.

3. Letter dated 10/16/95 from Roy E. Martin, Vice President of Science and Tecnology, National Fisheries Institute. He lends his support to the comments submitted by the American Feed Industry Association. Given to Workgroup 10/19/95 in meeting folder.

4. Position Paper dated April 8, 1993, (faxed to OSHA 10/18/95) from William R. Steinmetz, Jr., Safety/Loss Control Manager, Midland Engineering. He recommends a standardized format produced through a cooperative effort; generic training by hazard class by certified third party trainers; the publication of a list of chemicals that require an MSDS; the development of a list of generic products and generic MSDSs for use by construction companies; requirement of label only at construction sites. Given to Workgroup 10/19/95 in meeting folder.

5. Letter dated 11/3/95 from Dr. John S. Zapp, Executive Director, American Dental Association. He reported that members of a group of dentists studying the ANSI MSDS format concluded that it was not well suited to use by dental offices (related to 10/19/95 presentation). Mailed to Workgroup 11/9/95.

6. Letter dated 10.23/95 from George S. Kennedy, Director of Safety, National Utility Contractors Association. He suggested: the addition of an Appendix to the standard with a sample HazCom program outline and sample written program; improvements in labeling and accuracy of MSDSs; a standardized one or two page MSDS summary that is simple to understand; and modification of training requirements. Mailed to Workgroup 12/1/95.

7. Letter dated 12/5/95 from Edward M. Ranier (of Lord & Whip, Attorneys at Law) representing the National Funeral Directors Association. The Association urged the Workgroup to simplify the language of MSDSs and revise the HazCom Standard, and related standards covering specific chemical hazard such as formaldehyde, to clarify their meaning and reduce the paperwork required for compliance. Given to Workgroup 12/11/95 in meeting folder.

8. Letter dated 12/8/95 from Stuart Flatow submitting comments from The American Trucking Associations. Their comments concerned the scope of employer coverage, training and employee participation. They favored a uniform format for MSDSs and labels, mentioning the HMIS and NFPA systems as possibilities. They emphasized the need for any changes to the HCS, MSDSs and labels to be consistent with the needs of emergency responders which they outlined in their recommendations. They recommended that OSHA use ISO symbols and perhaps standard visual icons which immediately alert the user to a specific hazard. They proposed a specific reordering of the information on the MSDS, but also suggested that perhaps a two-part MSDS with one short portion for employees in understandable English and a second portion for employers and specialists with more detailed physical-chemical information would be more effective. Given to Workgroup 12/11/95 in meeting folder.

9. Letter dated 12/16/95 from Jaye Showalter, Kaiser Permanente, inviting Workgroup members to try their recorded tape messages on safety, especially the one on MSDSs. Mailed to Workgroup 2/29/96.

10. Letter dated 12/19/95 from Representative Duncan Hunter supporting centralized management of MSDSs and calling attention to the recommendations of 3E. Mailed to Workgroup 2/29/96.

11. Letter dated 1/15/96 from C. W. Hayes, Occupational Health Manager, Georgia Power. He recommends a standardized MSDS format to make it easier for employees/employers to find needed data, to facilitate training, and to simplify electronic transfer of data. Mailed to Workgroup 2/29/96.

12. Letter dated 1/9/96 from Deborah W. Oppenheim, Sr. Industrial Hygienist, Alabama Power. Same comments as Georgia Power. Mailed to Workgroup 2/29/96.

13. Letter dated 1/9/96 from Kenneth L. Roberts, Manager of Safety and Health (West), Southern Company Services. Same comments as Georgia Power. Mailed to Workgroup 2/29/96.

14. Letter dated 1/19/96 from Jesse L. McDaniel, Manager of Safety/Health & Regulatory Services, Countrymark Cooperative, Inc. The comments stated that "while there are challenges in presenting highly technical information to a diverse workforce, wholesale changes to Hazard Communication elements would increase confusion and present significant cost issues to employers...". They said that a standardized list of hazardous chemicals would be helpful which they felt might lead to a standardized format which they consider important. They recommended the mandatory use of "NFPA Diamond" information on each MSDS, standardized easy to understand PPE information, and simplification of language in general with technical data contained in an Addendum. Mailed to Workgroup 2/29/96.

15. News Release dated 9/1/95 from the Uniform Code Council, Inc. The news release states that "minor formulation changes which will replace an existing product and do not involve a MSDS change do not require a change in the U.P.C. number." This is related to the presentation made to the Workgroup. Mailed to Workgroup 2/29/96.

16. Letter and Recommendations dated 1/4/96 from David C. Ailor, Director of Regulatory Affairs, National Oilseed Processors Association. Their recommendations were: (1) simplify MSDSs; (2) modify enforcement policy so that only truly serious hazards trigger "serious" citations; and (3) infractions related to non-hazardous substances, such as most food and feed ingredients, should be treated as "de minimis". Mailed to Workgroup 2/29/96.

17. Letter and Recommendations dated 12/7/95 from Albert J. Ignatowski, HazCom Consulting. He recommends changes in the definitions of "chemical name" and "common name". Mailed to Workgroup 2/29/96.

18. Letter dated 12/8/95 from John H. Burger. He states that as a result of authoring over 8,000 MSDSs and teaching MSDS interpretation, he feels that current MSDS formats are too long and complex to be effective. He recommends a one page summary sheet for use by employees and a separate ANSI type format MSDS for technical specialists and employees who want more detailed information. He feels that training should be focused on the summary sheet. Mailed to Workgroup 2/29/96.

19. Letter dated 12/8/95 from Charles Dickhut, Chairman, Association of Waste Hazardous Materials Transporters. Concerns are expressed related to duplicative and overlapping training and hazard communication requirements of OSHA and DOT. They support the use of the ANSI format as a standard format. They also recommend that OSHA require manufacturers to identify, in some uniform fashion, when the MSDS is used for non-regulated materials. Mailed to Workgroup 2/29/96.

20. Letter dated 3/20/96 from Craig Brightup, Director of Government Relations, National Roofing Contractors Association, transmitting comments from William R. Steinmetz, Midland Engineering (see Comment No. 4) who is also a Vice President of the National Roofing Contractors Association. He says that improved labeling and reduced MSDS requirements would provide better results in worker access to information and ease the regulatory burden on small construction employers. Given to Workgroup 3/20/96 in meeting folder.

21. Letter dated 3/14/96 from Nancy Dehmlow, Vice President of Health, Safety & Environment, GLS Corporation. She recommends a national depository system for MSDSs on the Internet instead of the present system of each individual company being responsible for passing MSDSs downstream. Given to Workgroup 3/20/96 in meeting folder.

22. Letter faxed 3/18/96 from Robert Murray, Coors Ceramics Company. He recommends a uniform format for MSDSs with necessary information for workers on the first page. He also recommends use of the HMIS Hazard index and/or the NFPA Hazard rating right after the name of the chemical, with the PPE needed listed right under the ratings. Given to Workgroup 3/20/96 in meeting folder.

23. Additional comments dated 3/5/96 from Colette M. Mlynarek, Senior Regulatory Analyst, Health and Environmental Affairs, American Petroleum Institute (see December 12, 1995, presentation). Suggestions are included for an OSHA inspector's compliance audit guideline which checks the adequacy of an employer's performance oriented HazCom program. Examples of frivolous or low hazard priority citations are also included. Given to Workgroup 3/20/96 in meeting folder.

24. Comments dated 3/11/96 from H. Patrick Toner, Vice President of Technical Affairs, The Society of the Plastics Industry. The Society recommends standardization and simplification of MSDSs through OSHA endorsement of the ANSI MSDS standard; OSHA recognition of the ANSI Precautionary Labeling standard to enhance the communication of essential hazard information; and clarification by OSHA of its policy related to residual monomers to indicate that polymeric products containing residual monomers should be treated as mixtures. They stressed that none of the issues they raised would require OSHA to enter into formal rulemaking, and that interpretations of the existing regulation would suffice. Given to Workgroup 3/20/96 in meeting folder.

25. Letter dated 4/9/96 from Rob Craig, Logistics Management Institute with copy of the ASC X12 848 Material Safety Data Sheet for electronic data interchange (EDI) together with "implementation conventions" and a brief explanation of their usage. (See George Ganak presentation on December 11, 1995). Mailed to Workgroup 4/17/96.

26. Letter dated 4/22/96 from Stephen M. Azia, Associate Director, Government Relations, Health Industry Distributors Association. Because of the proliferation of MSDSs covering non-hazardous substances, HIDA recommends that OSHA establish clear specific guidelines which will clarify which products should be exempt from the "hazardous chemical" requirement. They also recommend that OSHA develop and require a national uniform MSDS format and allow for electronic delivery of the MSDS. Given to Workgroup 4/24/96 in meeting folder.

27. Letter and Memorandum dated 4/22/96 from Richard I. Bergman, President, Savant Associates, Inc. The Memorandum describes research undertaken by this group which resulted in new grammar and format which should make MSDS users' information processing tasks easier, and be equally applicable for designing a computer-adaptive multi-media system for hazard communication. Given to Workgroup 4/24/96 in meeting folder.

28. Letter dated 4/22/96 from Dr. William S. Ten Pas, President, American Dental Association. This references the association's 10/19/95 presentation and acknowledges merit in suggestions being considered by the workgroup. However, he states that for dental offices the best solution remains an exemption from the standard. Given to Workgroup 4/24/96 in meeting folder.

Summary of ANSI Z400.1

The American National Standard for Hazardous Industrial Chemicals - Material Safety Data Sheets - Preparation (ANSI Z400.1 - 1993) recommends a Material Safety Data Sheet which contains sixteen sections. This Standard recommends specific titles for each section and in some cases has additional recommendations for sub-sections with specific titles. It also describes, in detail, the audience, the language requirements and the content for each section and sub-section. The outline that follows this introduction is a brief summary of the detailed recommendations for a Material Safety Data Sheet is ANSI Z400.1 - 1993.

Material Safety Data Sheet Outline of Sections, Sub-Sections, Audience and Content
  • Section 1: CHEMICAL PRODUCT AND COMPANY IDENTIFICATION
    • Audience: All MSDS Users
    • Content:
      • Material identity.
      • Manufacturer or responsible company.
      • Alternative names/synonyms/company codes.
      • Optional MSDS number or code.
      • Name/address of manufacturer.
        • (Phone # for additional information.)
      • Emergency phone number.

  • Section 2: COMPOSITION, INFORMATION ON INGREDIENTS
    • Audience: All MSDS Users
    • Content:
      • All ingredients that contribute to the hazard.
      • (Chemical and common names).
      • Other options:
        • Trade secret in lieu of chemical identity.
        • List other significant ingredients (state or other federal regulations.)
        • Full disclosure of composition.
          • Percentages, CAS #'s.
          • OSHA PELs, ACGIH TLVs, company limits.
          • Other regulatory lists (SARA, IARC, etc.).

      • Section 3: HAZARDS IDENTIFICATION
        • EMERGENCY OVERVIEW:
          • Audience: Emergency Response Personnel.
          • Content:
            • Appearance, physical state, odor (if applicable).
            • Health, physical, and environmental hazards that require immediate attention in an emergency.
            • Options include paragraph format or label statements.
        • POTENTIAL HEALTH EFFECTS:
          • Audience:
            • All Individuals from Community and Employees to Health and Medical Professionals.
          • Content:
            • Information on potential adverse health effects and symptoms associated with exposure.
            • Include references to chronic health effects (IARC, NTP, OSHA, carcinogen classifications.
            • Present information in easily understood language.
            • Mixtures may include data for comments here or in Section 11.
            • Elements of this section include the following:
              • Route of exposure; lengths of exposure; severity of effect; target organ(s); type of effect; signs & symptoms of exposure; medical conditions aggravated by exposure.
                 
        • Section 4: FIRST AID MEASURES
          • FIRST AID PROCEDURES:
            • Audience: Individuals Untrained in Medical Treatment.
            • Content:
              • Provide instructions by route of exposure (e.g., inhalation, skin, eye, etc.).
              • Include simple remedial measures.
              • Information on first aid associated with specific handling methods may be appropriate.
              • Include antidotes that can be administered by lay persons.
              • Indicate if immediate attention is required and if delayed effects could be expected.
          • NOTE TO PHYSICIANS:
            • Audience: Medical Professionals
            • Content:
              • Provide additional information on specific treatment if available.
              • Additional symptoms detectable only by testing.
              • Specific treatment procedures.
              • For mixtures the symptoms/treatments of components of health concern could be described.
              • Aggravated medical conditions.
                 
        • Section 5: FIRE FIGHTING MEASURES
          • Audience: Employees, Emergency Responders, and Occupational Health & Safety Professionals
          • Content:
            • Flammable Properties Section:
            • Flash point and method;
            • Upper and lower flammable limits;
            • Autoignition temperature;
            • Flammability classification (29CFR 1910.1200);
            • Flame propagation or burn rate;
            • Hazardous products of combustion;
            • Unique properties that initiate or contribute to fire intensity.
          • Optional Additions:
            • Dust explosion;
            • Release of flammable gas/vapor;
            • Other unusual condition that contribute to fire hazards.
          • Extinguishing Media Section:
            • List proper media to extinguish fire.
          • Fire Fighting Instructions Section:
            • Instructions for protecting lives in the fire area noting unusual impact on the environment and property loss.
               
        • Section 6: ACCIDENTAL RELEASE MEASURES
          • Audience: Emergency Responders and Environmental Professionals
          • Content:
            • Containment techniques, clean-up procedures related to spills and releases.
            • Distinguish between large and small spills.
            • Personal protective equipment is specified in Section 8.
            • Other Emergency Advice:
              • Evacuation procedures;
              • Advice to protect the responders as well as the environment.
            • Specific reporting requirements can be placed here or in Section 15 (Regulatory Information).
               
        • Section 7: HANDLING AND STORAGE
          • HANDLING:
            • Audience: Employees, Occupational Health & Safety Professional, and Employers (customers)
            • Content:
              • Precautions for unique properties of material.
              • Note any specific federal regulatory requirements for safe handling.
              • List handling practices that:
                • Minimize contact; minimize fire risk; minimize release to environmental.
                • Include general warnings on practices to avoid (ANSI Z129.1) precautionary text may be applicable).
                • Include practices to prevent vapor release, use of non-sparking tools, explosion proof equipment, inert blanketing, precautions for handling molten or hot materials, etc.
          • STORAGE:
            • Audience: Employees Involved in Storage or Transport
            • Content:
              • Information for appropriate storage practices.
              • Note any unusual condition that could injure workers or damage the product/its container or storage area.
              • Note any specific storage condition to avoid a hazard or damage to the integrity of the material.
                 
        • Section 8: EXPOSURE CONTROLS, PERSONAL PROTECTION
          • ENGINEERING CONTROLS:
            • Audience: Employers and Occupational Health & Safety Professionals
            • Content:
              • Generally applicable control measures.
              • Engineering controls.
              • Ventilation needs.
              • Special process conditions.
          • PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE):
            • Audience: Employees, Occupational Health & Safety Professionals, and Emergency Responders
            • Content:
              • Recommend PPE for each route of exposure to minimize or prevent contract or exposure.
              • Note specific regulatory requirements for PPE.
              • Subdivide into section sub-headings:
                • Eye/face protection;
                • Skin protection;
                • Respiratory protection;
                • General (optional for additional information).
            • EXPOSURE GUIDELINES:
              • Audience: Occupational Health & Safety Professionals and Employees
              • Content:
                • Identify established exposure guidelines for the product, its components or both.
                • List OSHA PELs, ACGIH TLVs, and any other appropriate exposure guidelines.
                • Describe both the concentration and the time frame (e.g., 100 ppm 15 min.).
                • Include "skin notation" qualifier where applicable.
                • List mandatory guidelines first followed by any optional guidelines.
                • Overall option to list exposure guidelines in Section 2 (Composition, Information on Ingredients).
                   
        • Section 9: PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL PROPERTIES
          • Audience: All MSDS Users
          • Content:
            • The following characteristics should appear:
            • Odor; Physical State; pH; Vapor Pressure; Vapor Density; Boiling Point; Freezing/Melting Point; Solubility in Water; Specific Gravity or Density.
            • The following characteristics may only apply to specific materials: Heat Value; Particle Size; OC Content; Softening Point; Evaporation Rate; Viscosity; Bulk Density; Percent Volatile; Molecular Weight; Molecular Formula; Octanol/Water Partition Coefficient; Saturated Vapor Concentration
            • Identify units of measurement and/or reference conditions.
               
        • Section 10: STABILITY AND REACTIVITY
          • Audience: Employees and Occupational Health & Safety Professional. May be useful for Emergency Responders.
          • Content:
            • The following elements should be addressed:
            • Chemical stability: Indicate stability under normal storage/handling conditions.
            • Conditions to avoid: List conditions that may result in a hazardous situation (i.e., heat, pressure, shock, etc.).
            • Incompatibility with other materials: List chemicals or other materials that the product could react with to produce a hazardous situation.
            • Hazardous decomposition products: List known and reasonably anticipated hazardous materials produced as a result of oxidation heating or reaction with another material.
            • Hazardous polymerization: State if the material will polymerize releasing excess pressure, heat, or other hazardous conditions. State the conditions that could make this occur.
               
        • Section 11: TOXICOLOGICAL INFORMATION
          • Audience: Medical and Occupational Health and Safety Professionals, Toxicologists
          • Content:
            • Supporting data for health hazard determination presented in Section 3.
            • Acute tox data (LD50, LC50);
            • Chronic/sub-chronic studies;
            • Special studies (e.g., epidemiology, carcinogenicity, reproductive tox, etc.);
            • Present data either by route of exposure or end-point of test.
               
        • Section 12: ECOLOGICAL INFORMATION
          • Audience: Environmental Professionals, Other Involved with Use, Disposal or Spill Control
          • Content:
            • Ecotoxicity data (fish, avian, plants).
            • Environmental fate (persistence, degradation, bioaccumulation).
            • Certain physical/chemical characteristics (hydrolytic and photolytic stability, water solubility, vapor pressure).
            • Data results must indicate species, media, units, test duration, and conditions.
            • Include statements of relevance to the data.
               
        • Section 13: DISPOSAL CONSIDERATIONS
          • Audience: Environmental Professionals, Others Responsible for Waste Management Activities
          • Content:
            • Information relevant to determining the proper waste management options for a given material and/or container.
            • May include:
              • Classification under RCRA (40CFR261).
              • US EPA Hazardous Waste No. description.
              • Physical/chemical properties related to disposal options (e.g., BTU value for incineration, bioconcentration factor for landfilling.).
              • Specific disposal recommendations or limitations.
              • Advice that information pertains only to unused, uncontaminated material.
              • Advice that specific state or local regulations may impact available disposal options.
              • Providing obvious information only does not add value to the MSDS.
                 
        • Section 14: TRANSPORT INFORMATION
          • Audience: Anyone Preparing a Material for Shipment, Emergency Responders
          • Content:
            • Basic DOT description including:
            • Proper shipping name;
            • Hazard class;
            • UN/NA Identification No.
            • A statement indicating non-regulation by DOT of if classification changes based on package size or mode of shipment.
            • International transportation classification (e.g., IMO, ICAO, Transport Canada).
               
        • Section 15: REGULATORY INFORMATION
          • Audience: Regulatory Compliance Professionals, Anyone Interested in Compliance Issues
          • Content:
            • Information on the regulatory status of materials (including individual components).
            • May include:
              • US Federal Regulations (OSHA, TSCA, FIFRA, FDA< CERCLA, SARA Title III, etc.).
              • International Regulations (WHMIS, CEPA, EC, etc.).
              • US State Regulations (State R-T-K Requirements, State-Listed Materials, etc.).
                 
        • Section 16: OTHER INFORMATION
          • Audience: All MSDS Users
          • Content:
            • Additional information specifically unrelated to the other 15 sections.
            • May include:
              • Label text;
              • Hazard ratings (e.g., NFPA, HMIS);
              • Preparation/revision indicator.