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 http://www.osha.gov.

December 10, 1985

Mr. Ron Roberson
Corporate Industrial Hygienist
Sensidyne Inc.
Gas and Particulate Detection Systems
12345 Starkey Road, Suite E
Largo, Florida 33543

Dear Mr. Roberson:

This is in response to your letter of August 27, requesting an interpretation of the Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200. Please accept our apology for the delay in responding.

You requested guidance on how to prepare a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) under the trade secret provisions of the standard. Paragraph 29 CFR 1910.1200(c)(2) identifies the specific items which must be included on the material safety data sheet under the trade secrets provision of the standard. Only the specific chemical identity, including the specific chemical name and other specific identification of a hazardous chemical may be withheld from the MSDS, provided that the trade secret can be supported and that the MSDS indicates that the specific chemical identity is being withheld as a trade secret.

You requested clarification in several areas as noted below:

1. Is it acceptable to state "proprietary component A" or must you state "proprietary sulfur compound"?

It would be acceptable to refer to the trade secret chemical either as "Component A" or as "proprietary sulfur compound".

2. How does one state a Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for a proprietary compound? Can this be omitted or can several TLV's be stated if all are appropriate?

If there is an OSHA permissible exposure limit and a TLV for the proprietary component A, then that value would need to be reflected on the MSDS. If there is a PEL and TLV for the proprietary component A it cannot be withheld from the MSDS.

3. Can volume percentages be omitted for proprietary components?

The standard does not require the release of any volume percentages of any chemicals on the MSDS.

4. Under Health Hazard is it acceptable to refer to components as "Component A" or as "one component"? Can overexposure symptoms be discussed without divulging chemical families?

It would be acceptable to reference the health hazards associated with one chemical to that particular constituent; Ex. Health Hazards of Component A are....The health hazard information must include the signs and symptoms of exposure.

Finally, it should be noted that in a recent Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision on the Hazard Communication Standard the court found that the definition of a trade secret in the standard was too broad. The court ordered OSHA to redefine a trade secret to include those chemicals that would not be easily identified through reverse engineering.

The Agency in the near future will be going through the rulemaking process to change the definition of a trade secret in the Hazard Communication Standard. Any changes or proposed changes to the standard will be published in the Federal Register. You may wish to periodically review the Federal Register in order to keep apprised of any changes.

If I may be of further assistance on this matter please let me know.

Sincerely,



John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Field Operations




Mr. John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Field Operations
Occupational Safety & Health Administration
Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Mr. Miles:

We are in the process of preparing material safety data sheets for approximately thirty Sensidyne products. A few of these products are electrolyte refill kits for our toxic gas detection sensors. Revealing the exact content of these electrolytes would be a disclosure of proprietary "know-how" in a highly-competitive market. We would like to provide material safety data information to our customers without revealing the actual components in order to protect legitimate trade secrets.

We have not been able to locate guidelines for preparing a material safety data sheet under the trade secret provisions outlined in the Federal Register 29 CFR 1910.1200. Can you please provide us with a written field interpretation of those provisions? I am particularly interested in the following information.

1. What is acceptable wording under "Ingredients". Is it acceptable to state "proprietary sulfur compound"?

2. How does one state a TLV for a proprietary compound? Can this be omitted or can several TLV's be stated if all are appropriate?

3. Can volume percentages be omitted for proprietary components?

4. Under "Health Hazards" is it acceptable to refer to components as "Component A" or as "one component"? Can overexposure symptoms be discussed without divulging chemical families?

Any information or rules that you can pass on to us concerning the preparation of a "trade secret" MSDS will be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely yours,



Ron Roberson
Corporate Industrial Hygienist
SENSIDYNE INC.
Gas and Particulate Detection Systems
12345 Starkey Road, Suite E
Largo, Florida 33543
Phone (813) 530-3602/Telex 756223