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.

April 4, 1991

Mr. Robert D. Johnson
Resource Consultants, Inc.
Post Office Box 1848
Brentwood, Tennessee 37024

Dear Mr. Johnson:

Thank you for your letter of February 4, addressed to Ms. Melody Sands, regarding material safety data sheet (MSDS) requirements for scrap materials under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), 29 CFR 1910.1200. Your letter transmitted a copy of several different data sheets that have been developed by your company, Resource Consultants, Inc., along with your request that we review your hazard determination and MSDS production process for scrap commodities for compliance with the requirements of the HCS.

There are several points in your letter that we would like to clarify. First, you refer to the November 25, 1983, final rule on Hazard Communication. The currently-enforceable rule was published in the Federal Register on August 24, 1987, (a copy is enclosed for your reference). This final rule expanded the scope of the standard beyond only the manufacturing sector to all industrial segments. Your statement, therefore, that "We realize that the scrap recyclers are only required to pass along information to manufacturing customers when the scrap recyclers receive labels and MSDS's from employers who had scrapped the materials" is incorrect; information must be transmitted to all downstream employers with employees exposed or potentially exposed to the hazardous chemicals, not just those involved in manufacturing operations.

Secondly, OSHA has recently issued, on October 22, 1990, an update to its enforcement policies and procedures guidance document written as an aid for our enforcement staff to utilize during inspections for compliance with the HCS. This document, OSHA Instruction CPL 2-2.38C, is also enclosed for your reference and information and contains guidance you may find useful with regard to the applicability of the standard to scrap dealers (see, specifically, Appendix A, page A-29).

OSHA does not approve hazard determination processes or material safety data sheets in advance of actual enforcement inspections.

Any MSDSs utilized must be consistent with the guidance set forth by the final standard and interpretations made by the Agency. While OSHA does allow the use of a "generic" data sheet where the evidence supports the fact that a class or family of chemicals presents similar health hazards, any specific information that the chemical manufacturer has with regard to specific hazards must appear on the MSDS and label as appropriate. As pointed out in our compliance Instruction, if the supplier of the scrap added hazardous chemicals to the material, the supplier is responsible for providing a label and MSDS to the scrap dealer that addresses the additional hazard. We note that you have provided general language at the beginning of the data sheets you transmitted to us with your letter that warns that such additional hazardous chemicals "may or may not be present." Again, if the supplier has knowledge of the presence of any specific additional hazardous chemicals, that specific information must be passed to the downstream employer(s); a general warning such as provided on your data sheets is not acceptable.

As discussed in OSHA's May 23, 1986, letter to Mr. Edward L. Merrigan that you reference in your letter to us, MSDSs developed by trade associations are acceptable for use by employers if the information on them is accurate and complete. However, the scrap dealer utilizing the sheet is responsible for its accuracy and content. We note, after a brief review of the data sheet you supplied for "Bronze Scrap," that information on the health hazards associated with occupational exposure to lead is not mentioned in the "health hazards" section. Since lead is listed as one of the hazardous ingredients, information on the health effects of lead must be reported on the MSDS. We did not review the other sheets you sent with your letter, but all of the sheets you develop must similarly contain accurate information in all the required reporting categories or their use would result in the exposing employer being in violation of the HCS.

We hope this response and the enclosed additional information and references will be useful to you.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs


February 4, 1991

Ms. Melody Sands
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
200 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210

RE: Material Safety Data Sheet Development Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200

Dear Ms. Sands:

Resource Consultants, Inc. (RCI) has been retained by a national association of scrap material recyclers to perform hazard determinations and develop Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for several of the materials their members provide to customers. This association has requested that we explain our approach and methodology. Therefore, we are requesting your consultative assistance by evaluating our hazard determination and MSDS production process relative to the requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) (29 CFR 1910.1200) promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on November 25, 1991. Your consultative review of our methodology and your subsequent response would be greatly appreciated.

We realize that the scrap recyclers are only required to pass along information to manufacturing customers when the scrap recyclers receive labels and MSDS's from employers who had scrapped the materials. (Reference interpretation letter to Edward L. Merrigan from John Miles, Jr. Director, Directorate of Field Operations - ALM/523- 8036/N3104 File.) In reality, this transfer of information from employers to the scrap dealers is seldom completed according to the requirement of the HCS. Also, many scrap recyclers receive materials from individuals and others who are not subject to the requirements of the HCS. Even though the HCS does not require scrap recyclers to prepare MSDS's, many of their customers do as a matter of business because of the requirements placed upon them by the HCS. Therefore the recyclers desire that informative and up-to-date MSDS's and labels, which comply with the spirit and letter of the HCS, be made available for distribution to their customers. By taking this action, I believe you will agree that the scrap recyclers are exceeding the requirements of the HCS as it applies to this issue.

Our hazard determination process has involved the identification of ingredients known or thought to be present in a given scrap commodity. This identification process has been accomplished by reviewing available MSDS's from manufacturers of the original materials, by reviewing various process and industrial hygiene reference sources, and by reviewing analytical data gathered through research involving the scrap materials.

After the ingredients were known, we identified the various hazards according to Appendix B in the HCS. This identification process involves a review of the sources of information listed in Appendix C of the HCS, as well as, other available databases.

This research yields the data necessary to complete a useful MSDS for the recyclers' customers. The MSDS format is essentially similar to OSHA Form No. 174.

We recognize in certain instances there may be a possibility that scrap could contain small quantities of contaminants that are not identified in the review processes and, therefore, not listed on the MSDS. We have warned the users of this possibility. However, if the users comply with the precautions suggested on the MSDS, overexposures would he unlikely and significant physical hazards would be controlled.

We also recognize that paints and coatings can be a problem with the scrap materials. A general statement has been included with each MSDS warning that these paints and coatings present hazards that should be controlled. The paints may contain toxic metals that may produce an exposure during welding, cutting, grinding, etc. This potential has been described and suggested controls have been identified.

There are unique issues that need to be addressed in this process. The scrap recyclers are genuinely sincere in their attempts to comply with the regulation and provide their customers with the health and safety data necessary for safe use of their products.

We would appreciate your comments concerning this process and your review attached draft MSDS`s in that regard.



Robert D. Johnson CIH, CSP
Senior Industrial Hygienist