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.

November 1, 1992

Ms. Vicki H. Cormier
Environmental Secretary
PPG Industries, Inc.
Post Office Box 1000
Lake Charles, Louisiana 70602-1000

Dear Ms. Cormier:

Thank you for your letter of August 7, requesting clarification and interpretation of the provisions of paragraph (b)(6)(i) of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), 29 CFR 1910.1200.

Before responding to your specific questions, it is important to understand the intent of the HCS. This standard was promulgated to ensure that information regarding health and safety hazards of hazardous materials in the workplace are conveyed to the worker(s) whose responsibility it is to handle that material. This important information is conveyed through employee training, the presence and accessibility of material safety data sheets (MSDSs) for each hazardous chemical and container labeling. The premise of this approach is that workers who understand the hazards associated with a material will be more likely to handle the material in a safe manner.

Hazardous waste is specifically exempted from inclusion under the HCS by subparagraph 1910.1200(b)(6)(i), not because the concept of conveying information to the worker does not apply, but rather because another standard does; i.e., EPA's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

The following is a presentation of our responses to your questions in the order in which they were raised:

Question: Does this regulation exclude a container (drum) of hazardous waste in a satellite accumulation area that is in the process of being filled but has yet to be moved to an approved hazardous storage area and properly labeled as hazardous waste as outlined in RCRA regulations?

Response: No. All containers of hazardous chemicals in the workplace must be labeled. In order to claim the exemption allowed at (b)(6)(i) of the HCS, the drum must meet the requirements of that rule, including proper labeling as required by RCRA. One such applicable RCRA standard, 40 CFR 262.34(c)(1)(ii), requires that containers of hazardous waste at satellite collection areas within a plant be labeled or marked "either with the words hazardous waste or with other words that identify the contents of the container."

Question: Does this regulation exclude drums of waste defined as hazardous materials but not hazardous wastes such as asbestos contaminated waste/PCB- contaminated wastes, etc. that are labeled in accordance with other applicable regulations such as TSCA and RCRA?

Response: If these materials are labeled in accordance with the requirements of RCRA, and the employer can prove that all other applicable provisions of that Act have been met at the worksite, such materials would not be covered under the provisions of the Hazard Communication Standard. Section (b)(6)(i) of the HCS exempts from coverage any hazardous waste (as defined under the Solid Waste Disposal Act and amended by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and its amendments) when that material is subject to regulations issued by EPA. Therefore, if these materials are subject to those regulations and labeled in accordance with RCRA requirements, they are exempt from coverage under OSHA's HCS.

The HCS does not grant any exemption for materials regulated under EPA's TSCA.

Question: Does this regulation exclude Industrial Solid Waste, so labeled, that will be shipped offsite for landfill/disposal?

[This document was edited on 12/10/98 to strike information that may be misleading with respect to EPA RCRA requirements. OSHA exempts hazardous waste subject to regulation under RCRA from the provisions of 1910.120.]

Answer: Again, if a waste is labeled in accordance with RCRA requirements and is subject to the regulations of that Act, it is not covered under the provisions of the HCS. If this is not a RCRA- covered waste, it would be subject to the requirements of OSHA's HCS, including labeling and all other provisions of the rule.

It is always the employer's responsibility to be able to prove a claimed exemption to OSHA's HCS. With regard to the "hazardous waste exemptions" allowed at (b)(6)(i) of the HCS, the employer must be able to demonstrate that the material is subject to the RCRA regulations. Employers claiming this exemption must be able to produce the appropriate RCRA label and any other RCRA required identification materials to an inspecting OSHA compliance officer.

We hope this discussion has been responsive to the concerns you raised. Please feel free to contact us again if we can be of further assistance.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs