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 http://www.osha.gov.

August 31, 1993

Ms. Denese A. Deeds, CIH
Senior Consultant
Industrial Health & Safety Consultants, Inc.
915 Bridgeport Avenue
Shelton, CT 06484

Dear Ms. Deeds:

This is in response to your letter of June 21, to Mr. John Miles concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200. Mr. Miles forwarded your inquiry to the Office of Health Compliance Assistance for response. Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your letter.

You explain that employees working with or around small sensors which contain small amounts of corrosive chemicals would not be exposed to the hazardous chemicals under "normal conditions of use." OSHA agrees that these sensors would be considered articles as long as employees were not exposed to the hazardous chemicals, and, therefore, would not be covered by the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS).

If employees were exposed to the hazardous chemicals contained in the sensors during the construction of scientific instruments, or during the removal and disposal of old sensors, the HCS would apply. It is the employer's responsibility to determine if there is a threat of exposure to hazardous chemicals. OSHA instruction CPL 2-2.38C, dated October 22 1990, states the following in paragraph K.3.c.:

In some cases, a hazardous chemical may be present for a long period of time without an employee exposure until repair or demolition activities are performed. By way of example, employers involved in work operations where jackhammers are being used to break up a sidewalk know that they are exposing their employees to a hazardous chemical (silica), even though they did not "bring" the hazard to the site. Even though other provisions of the standard may not be enforceable (MSDS and labels), the employer should still develop a hazard communication program to inform their employees "about the hazardous chemicals to which they are exposed." Employers may utilize their already existing hazard communication program to communicate information on these types of hazards to their employees, as per paragraph (e)(3).

If there is potential for employee exposure, employers are required to include information regarding the hazards of the corrosive materials in the sensors in their hazard communication program.

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, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs