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.

December 4, 1995

Mr. Jeffrey M. Carter
Director of Safety
M.J. Moran, Inc.
Mechanical Contractors
4 South Main Street
Haydenville, MA 01039

Dear Mr. Carter:

This is in response to your letter of October 18 requesting a letter of compliance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding your "HAZCOM" data sheets to be utilized at the worksite to provide clear information about the chemicals used by your employees.

Your concept of developing abbreviated, plain-english HAZCOM data sheets to supplement the OSHA mandated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) in order to more quickly convey pertinent and concise information to your employees, would not be a violation of the Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1926.59). As you acknowledge in your letter, providing such data sheets would not be a substitute for providing the mandated MSDSs to those employees who want to see them.

The central concern of the provision that requires MSDS's to be readily available during all workshifts is that there must be no barriers to employee access to the MSDS information. In those situations where your supplemental HAZCOM data sheet information does not satisfy the needs of the affected employee, your policy that all related work can cease while the individual waits for delivery of the complete MSDS, reviews the MSDS, and has all related questions answered, would meet the intent of this requirement.

If we can be of any further assistance please contact me or Mr. Dale Cavanaugh of my staff at (202) 219-8136.


Roy F. Gurnham, P.E., J.D.
Office of Construction and Maritime
Compliance Assistance