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.

January 15, 1986

Mr. Warren Podolske
Milwaukee Metal Products Company
8000 W. Florist Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53218

Dear Mr. Podolske:

President Reagan has asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to respond to your letter of November 8, 1985, concerning the coverage of steel, aluminum, and other metals under the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). Please accept my apology for the delay in response.

The HCS requires that manufacturers perform a hazard determination on products they sell. As part of the evaluation the manufacturer must anticipate the uses to which product will normally be put. Both physical and health characteristics must be considered during the hazard determination procedure.

If through this evaluation (see 29 CFR 1910.1200(d)) it is determined that a product does contain hazardous chemicals which may be released during its use, then the product is covered by the HCS and proper labels and MSDS must be transmitted. If this is not the case, however, the product may meet the standard's definition of an article: "a manufactured item: (i) which is formed to a specific shape or design during manufacture; (ii) which has end use function(s) dependent in whole or in part upon its shape or design during end use; and (iii) which does not release, or otherwise result in exposure to, a hazardous chemical under normal conditions of use."

The HCS does not apply to products that meet the definition of an article. A hazard determination must be performed to establish this, however.

It is not OSHA's intent that all materials require material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and labels; rather, only those that are hazardous and present a possibility of employee exposure to the hazard.

Please feel free to contact us if further assistance is needed.


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

November 8, 1985

The President
White House
Washington, D. C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The OSHA Communication Std. 1910.1200 is being interpreted as classifying steel, aluminum and other metals as "Hazardous Chemicals".

Accordingly, safety data sheets must be sent by us to each customer with each order of stampings or fabrications.

We are a job shop which basically shears, punches and forms these materials to our customer's specifications. We are also familiar with procedures for handling hazardous chemicals such as 1,1,1- trichloroethane in degreasers.

However, to include steel and aluminum fabrications under this category rather than isolating the very rare procedures that might create a hazard is a criminal waste of taxpayers money for both the administration of the standard and the increased cost of the product.

Even a cursory investigation by your staff should indicate the major amendments common sense would dictate.

We have always complied with every real health and safety regulation to the best of our ability and knowledge, but we feel that this present standard is not going to protect anyone - rather the voluminous reports will bury the now important safety data sheets coming in.

Please give this important matter your earliest possible attention.

Very truly yours,


By Warren Podolske, President