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.

Jun 10 1988


MEMORANDUM FOR: NANCY BURKHEIMER, Deputy Commissioner of Maryland
  Division of Labor and Industry
FROM: BRUCE HILLENBRAND, Director Federal-State Operations
Subject: MSDS Question

As you will recall, at the Chapel Hill meeting the State of Washington inquired about the intent of the attached October 9, 1987, memorandum form Thomas Shepich, Director of Compliance Programs, on Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) required under the Hazard Communication standard. The memorandum addressed whether a MSDS format must include blocks or spaces for information that is not applicable or available for the substance involved. This question had been raised particularly by manufacturers that use computer-generated MSDSs. It is customary to exclude fields on such MSDSs when there is no information.

The States thought that it was preferable to provide a "not applicable" notation in such blocks rather than to omit them form the form. In response to our request for clarification, the following information has been provided by Mr. Shepich:

Since the standard is performance-oriented and not MSDS format is specified, employers are free to develop MSDSs that are designed for a specific chemical. For example, if an employer develops an MSDS for a chemical which is not a carcinogen, a space addressing carcinogenicity does not have to be provided on the form. This policy applies to any type of MSDS including computer-generated ones.

Of course, if a format is used which has a space addressing carcinogenicity or any other information required under the rule, it must not be left blank under any circumstances. We hope this adequately clarifies OSHA's position.


cc: State Designees Regional Administrators

THRU: LEO CAREY, DIRECTOR Directorate of Field Operations
FROM: THOMAS SHEPICH, DIRECTOR Directorate of Compliance Programs
SUBJECT: Clarification of Material Safety Data Sheet Requirements Under the Hazard Communication Standard.

The following clarification relates to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), reference 29 CFR 1910.1200.

Paragraph (g)(3) of the standard requires that chemical manufacturers, importers and employers preparing a MSDS include explanatory statements in blank sections. Accordingly, preparers must mark blank sections with any words that convey the idea that the information was not applicable or not available.

The duty imposed under paragraph (g)(3) of the HCS has raised the question of whether a preparer can simply exclude a block from the MSDS rather than making an explanatory note?

Based on an interpretive reading of the standard, blocks or sections may be omitted in their entirety if no information is available or non-existent.

If you have any question regarding this clarification, please contact Roy Gibbs or Steve Simon on FTS 523-8036.