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 31, 1989

Dr. Lynn A. Corson
Civil Engineering Building
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana 47907

Dear Dr. Corson:

This is in response to your letter of May 5, regarding the relationship between the Hazard Communication (HCS), 29 CFR 1910.1200, and Access to Employee Medical Records, 29 CFR 1910.1020, as they relate to maintenance of material safety data sheets (MSDS) and the written hazard communication program.

The HCS requires the employer to make available the written hazard communication program in accordance with the access to records provisions of 29 CFR 1910.1020. A copy of the written hazard communication program is, therefore, required to be made available upon request to employees, or their designated representative within fifteen working days at no cost to the employee or the representative. The HCS neither requires nor prohibits the printing of pocket-size copies of the program for employees.

Apart from the requirements of the HCS regarding the availability of the written hazard communication program, the Access to Employee Medical Records Standard has specific requirements for maintaining MSDSs as employee exposure records. MSDSs, when they indicate a hazard to human health, are specifically defined as employee exposure records in 29 CFR 1910.1020 and are also subject to the access to records provisions of this standard.

We hope this information is helpful to you in clarifying the requirements of these two standards.


Patricia K. Clark, Acting Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs