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 11, 1993

The Honorable Glenn Poshard
House of Representatives
107 Cannon Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Poshard:

Thank you for your letter of April 14, on behalf of your constituent, Mr. S.G. Walton, who is concerned with the application and benefit of OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200 to hazardous substances found in veterinary practices. Enclosed with your constituent's letter was a list of hazardous substances compiled by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) provides workers exposed to hazardous chemicals with information as well as training about the identities and hazards of those chemicals, as well as appropriate protective measures. OSHA believes that when workers have such information, they are better able to take steps to protect themselves from experiencing adverse effects from exposure. In addition, providing such information to employers helps them to design better protective programs to exposed employees.

OSHA believes that significant benefits are associated with the implementation of the HCS in the workplace. Employers may use the information, for example, to select personal protective equipment, design engineering controls, and substitute less hazardous chemicals. These actions will improve protection of workers. In addition, the written information can be used to train workers to properly handle the chemicals.

In response to your constituent's concern about which chemicals are covered by the HCS, the HCS applies only to hazardous drugs and chemicals. The criteria for hazard determination are specified in the HCS. Subsection (d)(1) of the HCS states that "Chemical manufacturers and importers shall evaluate chemicals produced in their workplaces or imported by them to determine if they are hazardous. Employers are not required to evaluate chemicals unless they choose not to rely on the evaluation performed by the chemical manufacturer or importer for the chemical to satisfy this requirement." Furthermore, Subsection (d)(2) of the HCS states that "Chemical manufacturers, importers, or employer evaluating chemicals shall consider the available scientific evidence concerning such hazards." Consequently, the hazardous chemical manufacturers, importers, or employers shall evaluate the hazardous chemicals according to Section (d) of the HCS. If evidence is identified that the chemicals are hazardous, then this information must be made available to their customers by means of appropriate labels and material safety data sheets (MSDS).

Three situations exist where the HCS does not apply to drugs. First, the HCS does not apply to drugs which are packaged for sale to consumers in a retail establishment. Second, it does not apply to drugs intended for personal consumption by employees while in the workplace. And finally, when a drug is in solid final form for direct administration to the patient (i.e. tablets or pills). If however, the solid pill or tablet is pulverized or crushed to facilitate administration then it is covered by the HCS.

Mr. Walton was correct in his comment on labeling by FDA and EPA. To eliminate duplication in labeling requirements between agencies, OSHA accepts the labeling requirements of both the FDA and EPA for drugs and pesticides, respectively. Section (f) of OSHA's HCS specifies labeling requirements for containers of other hazardous chemicals in the workplace and those being shipped.

We appreciate the opportunity to be of assistance.


Roger A. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs