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.

June 25, 1993

Mr. Michael J. Willis
N887l Lakeshore Drive
Van Dyne, Wisconsin 54979

Dear Mr. Willis:

This is in response to your letter of April 21, concerning the responsibilities of the employer and the federal government in protecting worker safety and health.

In your letter you refer to the material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and employee training responsibilities of the employer. While employee training requirements are a part of many different OSHA standards, your reference to material safety data sheets (MSDS) suggests that your letter concerns the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200.

During the rule-making process for the Hazard Communication Standard, the feasibility of the proposed regulation was assessed. OSHA concluded that the provisions of the standard were economically feasible for all industries covered within the scope of the standard. The Hazard Communication Standard includes requirements, such as labeling and MSDS, to ensure the downstream flow of information to employers and employees concerning physical and health hazards of workplace chemicals. In addition, it requires employers to take active steps to develop and implement information and training programs so that employees will be knowledgeable about chemical hazards of the workplace.

OSHA provides for consultation assistance to employers who want help in establishing and maintaining a safe and healthful workplace. This service is provided at no cost to the employer and is delivered by State governments using well-trained occupational health and safety professionals. No penalties are proposed or citations issued for hazards identified by the consultant. Consultation can provide assistance in developing and implementing effective workplace safety and health programs. Training and education services are also provided, as well as limited assistance away from the worksite. Additional information concerning consultation assistance, including a directory of OSHA-funded consultation projects, is included in the enclosed OSHA publication No. 3047, Consultation Services for the Employer.

We hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us at (202) 219-8036.


Roger A. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs

April 21, 1993

Michael J. Willis
N8871 Lakeshore Dr.
Van Dyne, WI 54979

Dorothy L. Strunk
U.S. Department of Labor
Assistant Secretary for
Occupational Safety and Health
Washington DC 20510

Ms. Strunk:

I am writing to you in order to voice my opinion on the financial problems associated with the initiation and upkeep of OSHA programs. In the past, employers have been solely responsible for MSDS data sheets and worker training. I firmly believe that the OSHA regulated "Right-to-Know" Act should be the responsibility of both the employer and the federal government.

While monetary support would be an obvious help, a program of initiation could be even more beneficial. By creating a group of "overseers", these men and women could help to initiate trainers as to the do's and don'ts of OSHA regulations. These overseers would be trainers of others at their respective institutions, and could function as MSDS data sheet regulators after initiation. This would allow the employers to still meet OSHA regulations, while not being solely responsible for the initial setup. In addition, having a trained professional on the staff of each company would allow for a smoother running operation overall.

This program would be vital to keeping companies and universities safe, while creating less stress and confusion for the OSHA employees as well. The obvious advantage is the increase in worker awareness and overall safety for everyone involved.


Michael J. Willis