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.

June 29, 1987

Mr. Frank L. Pellegrini
A Professional Corporation
Suite 400
133 South Eleventh Street
St. Louis, Missouri 63102

Dear Mr. Pellegrini:

This is in response to your letter of April 14, concerning the Hazard Communication Standard's requirement for target organ effects on labels for shipped containers of hazardous chemicals.

The definition of "health hazard" located at 29 CFR 1910.1200(c) includes a reference to Appendix A, which provides further definitions and explanations of the scope of health hazards. Section 1910.1200(d), "Hazard determination," also, states that Appendix A is to be consulted for health hazards covered.

The first paragraph of Appendix A makes it clear that employees exposed to health hazards must be apprised of both the change in body function and the signs and symptoms that may occur to signal the changes. Appendix A includes a target organ categorization of health effects that may occur. Examples of signs and symptoms of exposure, as well as indications of substances which have been found to effect the target organs, are set forth at the end of Appendix A. The reference to the change in body function and to target organ effects in Appendix A makes it clear that "appropriate hazard warnings" for any given hazardous substances are those that warn about potential danger of significant risk. Appendix A. in referring to target organ effects states that "these examples are presented to illustrate the range and diversity of effects and hazards found in the workplace, and the broad scope employers must consider in this are, but are not intended to be all-inclusive." Appendix C lists sources that employers may use to evaluate the hazards of chemicals they produce or import and the body parts that may be effected.

It is proper to look to the preamble for the administrative construction of the standard. The preamble accompanying and explaining the standard supports the target organ interpretation. In regard to the definition of "health hazard," the preamble states as follows (48 FR 53,295):

The definition for "health hazard" has been modified somewhat by including it it the target organ classification of hazards that are proposed in Appendix A. This should clarify the required scope of hazards to be evaluated.

The preamble makes the following further comment under the hazard determination provision of 1910.1200(b) (48 FR 53,296):

The term "health hazard" was defined very broadly in the proposal as a "chemical which, upon exposure, may result in the occurrence of acute or chronic health effects in employees." This definition was further expanded upon by Appendix A, which included a discussion of the difficulty of defining health hazards, and a categorization of health effects according to target organ. Included in the categorization were examples of both the signs and symptoms of overexposure and some specific substances which may affect those target organs. (Underlining added).

The "hazard warning" must convey the hazard of the chemical Appendix A of the standard makes it clear that employees must be apprised of the change in body function and the signs and symptoms that may occur to signal that change.

It is our position that when 1910.1200(f)(1)(ii) is read in conjunction with the definitions of `hazard warning' and `health hazard', set forth at 1910.1200(c), and the provisions for hazard determination set forth in 1910.1200(d), it is clear that the intent of the labeling requirement goes far beyond the effects must be included on the label is a reasonable interpretation of the 'appropriate hazard warning' requirement. OSHA feel that this interpretation is consistent with the underlying goal of the standard.

I hope your questions have been answered. If you need further assistance, please feel free to contact me again.


Leo Carey, Director
Directorate of Field Operations