- Standard Number:
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 http://www.osha.gov.
August 1, 1990
Mr. Reade Heskamp
345 North State Road
Medina, Ohio 44256
Thank you for your letter of June 1, regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), 29 CFR 1910.1200.
Specifically, you requested that OSHA review the promotional "Onsite Training System" which claims that "in less than one hour ... you'll be in compliance with the new OSHA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Hazardous Materials and Hazardous Waste Training Laws." OSHA does not perform reviews of employer training materials to determine if their use will render the user in compliance with our standards. Further, OSHA does not approve nor does it endorse documents such as the commercially available training program you submitted with your letter.
The HCS is a performance-based standard. This means that employees have the flexibility to adapt the rule to the needs of their workplace, rather than having to follow specific, rigid requirements. The HCS, at section (h), sets forth the elements that must be included in an employer's hazard communication training. According to the standard, employee training must consist of the following elements: There must be a discussion on how to read and to interpret information on the MSDS and on the labels, how employees can obtain the use the hazard information that is available and how the hazard communication program is implemented in their workplace. The training course must also address the hazards of the chemicals in the work area and the measures that the employees can take to protect themselves from the hazards. The training course must further cover the specific procedures that the employer uses to provide protection such as engineering controls, work practices, and the use of personal protective equipment. Finally, the training course must include the methods and observations that the workers can use to detect the presence a hazardous chemical to which they may be exposed.
If you believe that the training course mentioned in your letter would provide your employees with this information, then its use would meet the intent of the Hazard Communication Standard. As you can see, however, from the above-listed required training elements, many of the areas that must be addressed in hazard communication training are workplace specific - for example, training on the specific chemical hazards at your workplace. It is doubtful that these training requirements could be specifically addressed by the purchased or pre-packaged training program as referenced in your letter.
We hope that this response has been helpful to you in determining whether or not your employee training program is in compliance with the HCS. Please feel free to contact us again if we can be of further assistance.
Patricia K. Clark, Director Designate
Directorate of Compliance Programs