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, 1999

Ms. Maricela Carter
Baker Hughes; Baker Petrolite
Safety Programs
3900 Essex Lane
Houston, TX 77027

Dear Ms. Carter,

We have received your September 15, 1998 letter to Richard Fairfax, Director, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Directorate of Compliance Programs (DCP), in which you asked questions regarding the classification of your laboratory under the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), 29 CFR 1910.1200, or the Chemical Hygiene Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1450. Your inquiry can be summarized into two questions, which are outlined below.

  1. Do our laboratories (including quality assurance laboratories) fall under the Chemical Hygiene Standard (29 CFR 1910.1450) or the Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200)?

The best way to approach this question is to provide you with further information to allow you to make this determination, as we are not familiar with your work processes. Laboratories considered quality control/quality assurance laboratories are classified as adjuncts of production operations and are not covered under the Laboratory Standard, but are covered under the HCS. For those laboratories covered under the Laboratory Standard, the requirements of the HCS are superseded, and the Laboratory Standard takes precedence. Laboratories covered under the Laboratory Standard are those which use or handle hazardous chemicals in which all of the following conditions are met:

  • Chemical manipulations are carried out on a "laboratory scale",
  • Multiple chemical procedures or chemicals are used,
  • The procedures involved are not part of a production process, nor in any way simulate a production process, and
  • Protective laboratory practices and equipment are available and in common use to minimize the potential for employee exposure to hazardous chemicals.

The Laboratory Standard does not apply to laboratory use of hazardous chemicals which provide no potential for employee exposure. Examples of these would be the use of test media such as "dip and read" tests or commercially prepared pregnancy tests.

  1. Can Baker Petrolite supply its customers with a contact sheet or label stating formulation ID, date formulated, contact person, phone, address, storage and handling information, and warning information (instead of a formal MSDS)?

Baker Petrolite is directly responsible for providing MSDSs and labels which meet all the requirements of the HCS. Containers of chemicals which meet the definition of a hazardous chemical under the standard must be labeled with:

  • the identity of the chemical,
  • appropriate hazard warnings, including the target organ effects, and
  • the name and address of the chemical manufacturer, importer, or other responsible party.

MSDSs must contain all of the required information in paragraph (g) of the standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200, Material Data Safety Sheets. Although there is no required format for presenting hazard information, we have included a sample MSDS form which you might find helpful.

Thank you for your inquiry and we hope you find this information useful. If you require further assistance, please do not hesitate to call the Office of Health Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-2190.


Richard Fairfax
Directorate of Compliance Programs