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.

September 10, 1987

Mr. J. Andrew Doyle
Counsel National Paint & Coatings Association
1500 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005

Dear Mr. Doyle:

Thank you for the opportunity to review and comment on the National Paint and Coatings Association's (NPCA) Health Effects Labeling Approach (Advance Supplement to Volume II May 7, 1987).

The guidance provided in the labeling guide should serve as a practical tool for professionals responsible for hazard determination under the Hazard Communication Standard. When used in conjunction with the Hazard Communication Standard the manual will greatly assist employers in making proper compliance decisions. However, the use of the "Approach" may not guarantee that an employer will always be in compliance with the standard. Compliance officers will judge the adequacy of an employer's hazard determination decisions based on the scientific facts and the standard's requirements on a case by case basis.

The need for professional judgment relative to the Hazard Communication Standard is established by the very nature of the regulation. Accordingly, the application of specifications or cut-offs is incompatible with the performance orientation of the standard. For this reason, the concept of a numerical threshold for determining labeling obligations is not consistent with the intent of the Hazard Communication Standard. Professionals will generally agree that some threshold level is necessary, but they will rarely agree on the level for a single chemical. We are pleased to see the NPCA agrees with this concept. The Agency supports the use of the "Approach" and believes that when NPCA members use it correctly and in conjunction with the Hazard Communication Standard compliance will be achieved.

Once Again, thank you for permitting us to review your work. Please feel free to call on us again.


Frank White
Deputy Assistant Secretary