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 28, 1996

[Name Withheld]

Dear [Name Withheld]:

Thank you for your letter of April 19, addressed to the Honorable Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor, concerning application of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200). Your letter raised the issue of applying the Hazard Communication Standard to consumer products that contain hazardous chemicals.

Please understand that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is committed to common sense enforcement of its standards. The scenarios you describe in your letter of consumer product use, such as polishing tables, would not be covered by the Hazard Communication Standard, and therefore, would not require that you maintain a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Paragraph 1910.1200(b)(2)(ix) of the standard (enclosed) exempts hazardous chemicals that are used in a manner, frequency and duration of exposures that are not greater than the range of exposures that could be reasonably experienced by consumers. Also enclosed, is a compliance memorandum that further clarifies the OSHA's position on consumer products.

In regards to your reference to maintaining MSDS for 30 years, our regulation "Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records (29 CFR 1910.1020)" addresses the requirement to preserve and maintain employee exposure records such as MSDS. However, furniture polish used as described in your letter would not require an MSDS, and consequently, this would not be an issue.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health.


John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs