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 1, 1989

Francis J. Roth
Safety Officer
Abington Memorial Hospital
Abington, PA 19001

Dear Mr. Roth:

This is in reply to your letter concerning compliance with the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). Answers to your questions are as follows:

1. Trained, certified technicians are required to complete the training program as outlined in 29 CFR 1910.1200(h). If an employee has previously received training on hazardous chemicals during prior employment at a difference facility, then the employee would still be required to be trained for current employment. Topics which are unique for current employment would be operations in the work area where hazardous chemicals are present, the location of material safety data sheets, and the procedures implemented to protect employees in the facility including availability of personal protective equipment. It must be noted that the current employer should reiterate specific chemical training as required by 29 CFR 1910.1200 since the level of training will vary among facilities.

2. The Hazard Communication Standard does not apply to drugs, as defined in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, when in solid, final form for direct administration to the patient (i.e. tablets, or pills). Therefore, "pharmaceutical grade" chemicals used as a component of an end product pharmaceutical are to be included in the HCS program. If an end product pharmaceutical is itself being used as a component of an end product pharmaceutical, then it must be included in the HCS program.

Please contact James Johnston of my staff at (215)596-1201 if you have any further questions. Sincerely,


August 14, 1989

Linda Anku, Regional Administrator
Region 3 - O.S.H.A.
3535 Market Street, Suite 2100
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Ms. Anku:

I have been getting feedback from several of my technical departments stating they believe there are exemptions in the Hazard Communication regulations that may apply to their area. Specifically, they believe that certain requirements listed in the mandated training session are not applicable to their employees, since these individuals are already trained and certified by an educational institution to a specific level of competency with the chemical products they are working with. In addition, there are some questions relating to when a product should be included in the Hazard Communication program.

Since I am working very hard to obtain total compliance with these regulations, I would appreciate your agency's formal interpretation to the following questions;

1. Are trained, certified technicians (ie, Radiology, Pharmacy, Laboratory, etc.) required to complete the training program for Hazard Communication when becoming employed by the hospital, as outlined in the 29 CFR 1910.1200? How does this apply if they are trained at our facility? ...by another facility?

2. If there are exemptions, then what components of this training program are permitted to be excluded for these individuals?

3. If there are exemptions, then are there any special documentation requirements needed to insure compliance has been achieved?

4. At what point in time does a product become a pharmaceutical? For example, if a "pharmaceutical grade" chemical is being used as a component of an end product pharmaceutical, but it is not itself a pharmaceutical, should it be included in the Hazard Communication program? Or, for a more confusing issue, if an end product pharmaceutical itself is being used as a component of an end product pharmaceutical, should it be included in the Hazard Communication program?

You may have inferred from the questions asked that confusion exists around what is acceptable within your agency's guidelines, and how much latitude there is regarding their interpretation. I did speak with David Cummings, Industrial Hygiene Supervisor, about several of these issues, but in order to convey your department's policy, I will need to have written documentation outlining your agency's position. Therefore, if you could provide me with written information relevant to your enforcement guidelines for Hazard Communication, it would be a great help in firming up the hospital's goals and objectives for compliance.

If you need any further information in order to respond to this request, please feel free to contact my office at (215) 576-2767.

I would like to thank you in advance for your cooperation.


Francis J. Roth
Safety Officer