Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

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

September 8, 1987




SUBJECT:         Responsibility for Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) Under
                 the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS)

Several requests for clarification concerning a downstream user's responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of material safety data sheets have been received in the National Office. Based on discussions with the Solicitor and the Directorate of Health Standards, we have concluded that the language used in the HCS requires that only the party preparing or obtaining the MSDS (i.e. the manufacturer or importer) can be held responsible for its content. Therefore, effective immediately, only the upstream manufacturer or importer will be cited for violations involving MSDS accuracy and completeness. Downstream users will no longer be subject to these citations. Any outstanding, relevant citation(s) which have been issued to downstream users shall be withdrawn.

When a MSDS violation is discovered at a downstream user's facility, the Area Director shall follow the referral procedure detailed in CPL 2-2.38A, dated May 16, 1986, page 17. The sample letter referenced in Appendix B should be modified to inform employers that a corrected MSDS must be sent to all customers not just the establishment where the discrepancy was discovered.

The above policy change will be reflected shortly in a change to CPL 2-2.38A. Questions concerning these procedures should be directed to Roy Gibbs or Steve Simon, Office of Health Compliance Assistance, at FTS 523-8036.