- 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 https://www.osha.gov.
May 8, 1991
MEMORANDUM FOR: LINDA R. ANKU REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR FROM: PATRICIA K. CLARK, DIRECTOR DIRECTORATE OF COMPLIANCE PROGRAMS SUBJECT: Hazard Communication Standard - Pesticide Labeling
This is in response to your memorandum of January 28, and followup of April 16, requesting an interpretation of the labeling requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) with regard to containers of pesticides. In your memo you question whether OSHA can cite an employer when an unlabeled container of a pesticide is found in the workplace. Your conclusion appears to be that OSHA cannot cite since the pesticide is "subject" to EPA pesticide labeling requirements, whether the label is present or not.
If OSHA is certain that the chemical is a pesticide -- and that the lack of a label is therefore a violation of EPA's requirements and not OSHA's -- no citation would be issued, but a referral would be made to EPA. However, the CSHO cannot objectively ascertain that the container holds a covered pesticide unless an appropriate pesticide label -- with an EPA registration number -- is produced by the employer. Existence of such a label needs to be established for OSHA to be certain that the chemical is an EPA-regulated pesticide. This is particularly important since many pesticides are used for other purposes (e.g., carbon tetrachloride and ethylene dibromide).
Thus, from a practical perspective, if the CSHO finds an unlabeled container of chemicals in the workplace, the employer should be cited for violating the labeling provisions of the HCS unless: 1) it is exempted under the portable container provisions; 2) the employer can demonstrate that the chemical is not hazardous, and therefore not subject to the HCS; or 3) the employer can demonstrate that the chemical is subject to labeling requirements of EPA (or other Federal agency) by producing the appropriate label.
If the appropriate pesticide label is produced after the citation is issued, we will withdraw it upon proof that the chemical is covered under EPA regulations.
January 28, 1991
MEMORANDUM FOR: PATRICIA K. CLARK, DIRECTOR DIRECTORATE OF COMPLIANCE PROGRAMS ATTENTION: DAVID SMITH, DIRECTOR OFFICE OF HEALTH COMPLIANCE ASSISTANCE FROM: LINDA R. ANKU REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR SUBJECT: Hazard Communication Standard - Pesticide Labeling
Questions has arisen concerning the need to label pesticides according to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS).
The standard states in section (b)(5) that pesticides, as defined in FIFRA, are not required to be labeled under the HCS when "subject to the labeling requirements" of FIFRA. This clearly states that HCS labeling requirements can not be cited for containers of pesticides, even if the pesticide containers are not labeled in accordance with FIFRA since the pesticides are still subject to the FIFRA labeling requirements. Statements have been made that OSHA should cite under the HCS if pesticide containers are not labeled in accordance with FIFRA. It does not appear that these statements would be able to be supported. Confusion has apparently arisen due to an erroneous reading of (b)(5) as stating that the exception applies when labeled in accordance with FIFRA. Since section (b)(5) clearly does not state this, the labeling exemption under the HCS would not be affected by the failure to label in accordance with FIFRA.
Preliminary discussion on this issue has been held with Orlando Pannochia of the Solicitor's office. It is requested that a legal opinion be rendered.
Please contact Jim Johnston of my staff (FTS 596-1201) if there are any questions.