- Standard Number:
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.
January 31, 2013
Ms. Erin McVeigh
4520 East West Highway, Ste. 440
Bethesda. MD 20814
Dear Ms. McVeigh:
Thank you for your September 25, 2012, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter was referred to OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs for a response to your specific questions regarding the revised Hazard Communication standard (HCS 2012), 29 CFR 1910.1200. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements herein, and may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondence. Your paraphrased questions and our responses are below.
Question 1: Does supplemental information on a label, such as information regarding an environmental hazard or a hazard not otherwise classified (HNOC), need to be physically separated from the harmonized information?
Response: The HCS 2012 does not prohibit a manufacturer from adding supplemental information to a label, as long as it does not lead to unnecessarily wide variation or undermine the required label information. Therefore, section C.3.1 of Appendix C to HCS 2012 provides that supplementary information may only be provided if it provides further detail and does not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the information required by the HCS 2012. The HCS 2012 does not specify the format of the label, only the information required on the label. Supplemental information need not be physically separated from the required information on the label; however, section C.3.2 provides that the placement of supplemental information must not impede identification of information required by HCS 2012. How a manufacturer designs the layout of the label is up to the preparer, as long as all the required information is present.
Question 2: Is it permissible to include signal words on the safety data sheet (SDS) and label for an HNOC?
Response: Under section 1910.1200(f)(1), HNOCs need not be addressed on an HCS label, and there are no harmonized label requirements for HNOCs. There are only two signal words, "danger" and "warning," under the HCS 2012. Only one signal word may appear on the label and SDS. Under section C.2.1.1 of Appendix C of the standard, if the signal word "danger" appears, the signal word "warning" shall not. It is not permissible to use signal words other than "danger" or "warning" for HNOCs. The correct signal word for HNOCs must appear on the SDS.
Question 3: Is it permissible to include hazard symbols on the SDS and label for an HNOC, or should information only be displayed as a statement similar to the hazard and precautionary statements adopted from the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)?
Response: The HCS 2012 requires the use of up to eight pictograms. The number of pictograms required depends upon the classification of the hazardous chemical. However, the manufacturer may add additional symbol(s) to the label and SDS as long as that symbol is not an HCS 2012 pictogram and does not contradict or cast doubt on the information that is required on the label.
Question 4: Can HNOCs be included with other classifications which are described in Section 2 of the SDS, subsection (a), or should they remain under their own sub-header on the SDS?
Response: Section 2, subheading (a) of Table D.l requires the manufacturer to provide the classification of the chemical in accordance with section 1910.1200(d). Section 1910.1200(d) delineates the hazard classification process. Paragraph (c) of the HCS 2012 defines HNOC as:
an adverse physical or health effect identified through evaluation of scientific evidence during the classification process that does not meet the specified criteria for the physical and health hazard classes addressed in this section. This does not extend coverage to adverse physical and health effects for which there is a hazard class addressed in this section, but the effect either falls below the cut-off value/concentration limit of the hazard class or is under a GHS hazard category that has not been adopted by OSHA (e.g., acute toxicity Category 5).
As HNOCs are identified through the section 1910.1200(d) hazard classification process, it is permissible to include information on HNOCs under subheading (a).
Question 5: Can Section 16 of the SDS be titled, "Other Information," or does it need to have the exact wording, "Other information, including date of preparation or last revision," as specified in 29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(2)(xvi) and Appendix D?
Response: The full title of Section 16 is "Other information, including date of preparation or last revision." It is permissible to title Section 16 "Other information." However, the information contained in this section must include the date of preparation or last revision in order to be considered complete.
Question 6: What punctuation is required to be used in the SDS? Is it permissible to either use a comma or a period after the headings of each section in the SDS?
Response: HCS 2012 does not require that specific punctuation be used in the SDS. It is permissible to use either a comma or a period after the headings of each section of the SDS.
Question 7: Section 8 of the SDS requires the SDS preparer to include the applicable OSHA permissible exposure limits (PELs) and American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGM) Threshold Limit Values (TLVs®). Must the PELs and TLVs® be included regardless of the concentration of the constituent or ingredient? Are they required if the ingredient does not contribute to the hazard classification? If the material has a TLV® and must be listed in Section 8, does it also have to be listed in Section 3?
Response: Under Section 8 of Appendix D to the HCS 2012, subheading (a), the manufacturer must list the OSHA PEL, ACGIH TLV®, and any other exposure limit used or recommended by the chemical manufacturer, importer, or employer preparing the safety data sheet, where available. The requirement to include PELs and TLVs® in Section 8 of the SDS applies to any constituent or ingredient (including additives and impurities) that is present in the mixture or - substance above its cut-off value, or if it is below the cut-off value but still contributes to the hazard classification of the material. Please see the answer to question 8 for more details about contributing to the classification of the material. If a constituent is not present in the mixture or substance above its cut-off value, and does not contribute to the hazard classification of the substance or mixture, the PEL and TLV® associated with the ingredient need not be listed on the SDS. The lists of constituents in Sections 3 and 8 must be the same. If the constituent does not have a TLV® or PEL, its recommended exposure limit must be listed as "not applicable (N/A)" or "none."
Question 8: Is it still required to include information on the SDSs concerning components that could release above the TLV®, OSHA PEL, or that present health risks? The HCS 2012 seems to only require listing components in Section 3 that contribute to health hazards and are present within the product above the concentration cut-off.
Response: Section 3 of Appendix D to HCS 2012 states that if the hazard of an ingredient presents a health risk below the applicable cut-off value, it must listed. It is OSHA's longstanding position that where a component may be released above an OSHA PEL or the TLV®, it presents a health risk, and must therefore be included on the SDS. Where a component of a product may be released in concentrations that would exceed an OSHA PEL or the TLV® information on these components must be included, regardless of whether their concentration in the product is below the cut-off value.
Question 9: Are the hazard and precautionary statements that appear in Appendix C mandatory, or is there flexibility in capitalization, word changes, etc.? There are a number of hazard and precautionary statements that appear in Appendix C that do not exist in the 3rd edition of the GHS. Can the GHS statements be used instead of the HCS statements? For example, can GHS precautionary statement P272, "contaminated work clothing should not be allowed out of the workplace," be used instead of the statement in Appendix C, "contaminated work clothing must not be allowed out of the workplace"?
Response: The hazard and precautionary statements that appear in Appendix C under Sections C.2.2.1 and C.2.4.1 are mandatory. However, C.2.2.1 allows hazard statements to be combined where appropriate to reduce the information on the label and improve readability, as long as all of the hazards are conveyed as required. Likewise, C.2.4.6 also allows for the combination or consolidation of precautionary statements to save label space and improve readability. OSHA does not require specific capitalization in the format of the statements.
As stated previously, the hazard and precautionary statements are mandatory, and therefore the GHS hazard and precautionary statements cannot be used instead of those required by HCS 2012. The GHS is guidance; the HCS 2012 is a mandatory standard. When the HCS 2012 was promulgated, the GHS statements were modified to reflect the mandatory nature of the standard.
Therefore, statements that were written in the GHS as "could" or "should," were revised to have mandatory language such as "must" or "shall."
Question 10: What is the proper classification of a chemical that has a flash point less than 22°C but the boiling point has not been determined?
Response: OSHA does not classify chemicals for manufacturers. However, your question raises the point of how to classify a chemical if all the information needed to follow the HCS classification requirements is not available or is unknown. The HCS 2012 does not require testing of chemicals, however, manufacturers are permitted to test their product. Manufacturers must base the classification of the flammable chemical on the information about the chemical that is available. If sufficient data is not available, professional judgment must be used. This should be documented and subsequently reviewed when more information is available.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA's requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our letters of interpretation do not create new or additional requirements but rather explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. From time to time, letters are affected when the Agency updates a standard, a legal decision impacts a standard, or changes in technology affect the interpretation. To assure that you are using the correct information and guidance, please consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.
Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs