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.

July 18, 1988

SUBJECT: Enforcement of the Hazard Communication Standard

This is a followup to our memorandum of May 25, regarding enforcement of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) in the non-manufacturing sector (copy attached). As mentioned in that memorandum, on May 20, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit transferred the petitions to review the expanded Hazard Communication Standard to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and ordered OSHA to stay enforcement of the expanded standard until the Third Circuit ruled on an emergency motion for stay that it had under review.

On June 24, the Third Circuit granted a stay of enforcement of the HCS. On June 30, the Secretary of Labor filed a motion with the Third Circuit to clarify the scope of the revised HCS in the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors, with the exception of construction. On July 8, the Third Circuit granted the motion and clarified that the stay applies only with respect to construction employers.

OSHA is preparing a Federal Register notice to inform employers and employees in the non-manufacturing sector that the effective date of the HCS was June 24, 1988, for all industry sectors except construction. To provide time for additional notification to affected employers and employees, OSHA will not include assessments of compliance with the HCS in programmed inspections, nor in unprogrammed inspections not related to hazard communication, until August 1, 1988.

Effective immediately, complaints or referrals alleging a deficiency in any non-construction employer's hazard communication program shall be handled in accordance with Chapter IX of Field Operations Manual. In addition, fatality/catastrophe investigations shall include assessment of compliance with the HCS if it appears to be relevant.

CSHOs shall ensure that chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers in the non-manufacturing sectors are notified during each inspection until August 1, that the HCS has been in effect for all non-manufacturing sectors, except construction, as of June 24.

All State designees and Consultation Project Managers within your Region should be notified immediately of these developments and the nature and time table for OSHA's enforcement plans in all non-manufacturing sectors except construction. Any State plan which has been honoring the stay on the HCS in the non-manufacturing sector may continue to do so with respect to the Third Circuit's order concerning construction, but must begin enforcement in all other non-manufacturing sectors no later than August 1, in order to maintain an effective level of plan operation and employee protection.