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.

January 27, 1993

Mr. Joe Jackson
Amarillo Gear Company
Post Office Box 1789
Amarillo, Texas 79105

Dear Mr. Jackson:

This is in response to your inquiry of October 5, 1992, concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200.

You requested OSHA's opinion on whether Amarillo Gear Company's right angle gear boxes are exempt from the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). While we cannot give individual products exemption or approval status, we will explain how "articles" are considered exempt from the HCS.

OSHA promulgated the HCS, also known as the "Right to Know" rule, to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported into the U.S. are evaluated, and that information concerning their hazards is transmitted to employers and employees. The standard applies to all chemicals which are known to be present in the workplace in such a manner that employees may be exposed to them under normal conditions of use or in a foreseeable emergency. For this reason it is important for manufacturers to assess whether or not their products present a hazard in the work place.

The current definition of "article" in 29 CFR 1910.1200 is provided as follows (this definition may change slightly, as per the proposed rule which was published in the Federal Register on August 8, 1988; however if a change is made it would merely clarify the definition as it stands now):

"Article" means a manufactured item: (i) which is formed to a specific shape or design during manufacture; (ii) which has end use function(s) dependent in whole or in part upon its shape or design during end use; and (iii) which does not release, or otherwise result in exposure to, a hazardous chemical under normal conditions of use.

If a machine such as yours does not potentially release chemicals during normal operating conditions it would be considered an article exempt from the HCS's requirements, as per 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(6)(iv). If chemicals were released during normal operating conditions Amarillo Gear Company would have to create an MSDS.

Employees who are expected to perform work on the machinery (i.e. lubricating or cleaning) that would expose them to hazardous chemicals, must be made aware of the hazards of the chemicals they will be expected to use. Their employer must obtain MSDSs for the lubricant or cleaning agent, if those items could result in exposure to hazardous chemicals, and train employees on the hazards of those chemicals.

We hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions please contact the Office of Health Compliance Assistance at (202) 219-8036.


Roger A. Clark,
Directorate of Compliance Programs

October 5, 1992

U.S. Department of Labor
3rd & Constitution Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20210


Our company manufacturers a line of right angle gear boxes (see enclosed sales literature.) Some of the companies we sell to are asking for MSDS sheets for our gear boxes.

We have talked to the OSHA office in Lubbock and they agree with us that the product we manufacture is considered an "article" by OSHA and would not require an MSDS sheet. They suggested that we get a letter from the OSHA office in Washington stating that our product is exempt.

If you could send us a letter with the information above included, it will make explaining to our customers a lot easier.

Yours truly,

Joe D. Jackson
Purchasing Manager