OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.


March 4, 1985

Richard Homik, Supervisor
Occupational Safety & Hygiene
Sherritt Gordon Mines, Ltd.
Metal and Chemical Division
Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada TSL 2P2

Dear Mr. Homik:

This is in response to your letter of February 11 requesting information on the adequacy of your firm's planned MSDS format for compliance with the OSHA Hazard Communication and Labeling standard.

To begin with, the regulatory philosophy of the Reagan Administration is to provide the business community with maximum flexibility with respect to how compliance with regulatory objectives is achieved. Toward that end, OSHA is phasing out the use of the Form 20 which previously served as a format for MSDS sheets. We are not planning to prescribe any fixed format, nor are we in a position to review and approve the formats selected by the various companies required to issue MSDS's pursuant to the Hazard Communication standard.

However, the standard requires chemical manufacturers and importers to develop an MSDS for each hazardous chemical they produce (or if they are US importers) for products they import. These must be supplied, updated, and provided to purchasers in SIC codes 20-39 which comprises the manufacturing sector.

In order to assist you in reaching a decision on the final format of your firm's MSDS, I can provide you with a 12 item list drawn from the standard itself which comprises the information categories that must be reflected in the MSDS. Of course firms are free to format an MSDS any way they want, and to include additional information as well. The following categories of information must be included:


  1. Product identity
  2. Physical and chemical characteristics
  3. Physical hazard
  4. Health hazard
  5. Routes of entry or exposure
  6. Exposure limits
  7. Carcinogenicity potential
  8. Precautions for handling and use
  9. Applicable control measures
  10. Emergency and first aid procedures
  11. Date of preparation and or change
  12. Preparer and where additional information may be obtained.



We in OSHA appreciate the care and concern your firm has evidenced in preparing to work with us to implement this important standard. I hope this information will prove helpful to you. If you have any additional specific concerns about the Hazard Communication and Labeling standard you can direct them to [the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.]


Gary Strobel
Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary
For Occupational Safety and Health

[Corrected 1/29/2009]

February 11, 1985

Mr. Gary Strobal
Room S 2316
200 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Gary:

As per our recent telephone conversation, please find enclosed a copy of our current Material Safety Data Sheet which we use for our products in Canada. Could you please review our MSDS format and let me know if it will comply with the OSHA requirements that are scheduled for November, 1985. If the format does meet the MSDS requirements, we intend to use this sheet to accompany product shipments to the U.S.

I would appreciate your comments in writing if possible. My business card is enclosed if immediate contact is required.

Thank you for your concerns on this matter.

Yours truly,

Dick Homik
Occupational Health & Hygiene
Sherritt Gordon Mines Limited
Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada
T8L 2P2