- 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 https://www.osha.gov.
May 12, 2014
Mr. Jordan A. LaVine
Four Penn Center
1600 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, 2nd Floor
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103
Dear Mr. LaVine:
Thank you for your June 20, 2013, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Directorate of Standards and Guidance. Your letter was forwarded to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs for a response. This reply follows our interim response, dated November 25, 2013, and we apologize for the delay. Your questions concern the labeling requirements under 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 response are below.
Background: Your client's chemical is sold as a consumer product in addition to being sold to industrial markets. You believe as such, this product must meet the labeling requirements of both the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and OSHA's HCS 2012. Your client would like to label the product with the CPSC-required information on the front panel (either the front of a fold-back label or the front of the container) and the HCS-required information on the back panel (either the underside of the fold-back label or the back of the container). However, you are concerned because there are differences in the chemical hazard classification criteria which may result in different and possibly conflicting warning information on the same label.
Question 1: Would it be OSHA-compliant to have both the CPSC and HCS 2012 label elements in different locations on the same label?
Response: OSHA does not approve specific product labels, but we can explain the label requirements under OSHA's HCS 2012. Your questions concerning CPSC label requirements, other than the exceptions stated in HCS 2012, must be addressed to the CPSC. OSHA exempts products from HCS labeling when they are subject to a consumer product safety standard or labeling requirement of the Consumer Product Safety Act and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, per HCS paragraph 1910.1200(b)(5)(v). However, any chemical that is not subject to this or other labeling exemptions must be labeled in accordance with the HCS requirements specified at paragraph 1910.1200(f), regardless of whether it is also required to conform with the labeling requirements set by another agency.
The HCS requires that the label information on all shipped containers of chemicals contain specific information that is based on the classification of the chemicals in the product. The following information is required on labels as explained in 1910.1200(f)(1), with the label elements defined in 1910.1200(f)(1)(i)-(vi):
- Product identifier;
- Signal word;
- Hazard statement(s);
- Precautionary statement(s); and,
- Name, address, and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer, or other responsible party.
Manufacturers are permitted to include supplemental information on HCS labels under Appendix C.3, Supplementary Hazard Information. Chapter C.3.1 requires that supplementary information be limited to situations where it would not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the standardized hazard information. Chapter C.3.2 requires that the placement of the supplemental information must not impede indication of the information required to be on the label under HCS 2012. OSHA may consider the CPSC or any other agency-required information as supplemental information. This letter provides clarification on how manufacturers, importers or distributors can incorporate supplemental information into their labels that provides further detail, does not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the standardized hazard information, and does not impede the identification of the required HCS information.
For clarification, the following labeling schemes would be considered as casting doubt or impeding the identification of the required HCS 2012 information:
- Intertwining the supplemental information with HCS 2012 information, so that the worker cannot easily identify the required hazard information.
- Displaying the supplemental information more prominently than the HCS 2012 information (e.g., different font sizes).
- Placing the supplemental information on the outside of a fold-back label and the required HCS 2012 information on the inside.
- Providing the label elements in a foreign language more prominently than the label elements in English or in such a manner that the required label elements in English are not the most prominent items on the label.
- The use of symbols other than the required HCS 2012 symbols within the red border (except the environmental symbol) as part of pictograms.
- The use of a signal word other than that which is appropriate for the chemical's hazard.
There may be other labeling schemes where the use of supplemental information does not provide further detail, contradicts or casts doubt on the required information, and/or impedes the identification of the required information. During an OSHA inspection, an OSHA compliance safety and health officer would determine a chemical label's compliance with the HCS on a case-by-case basis to ensure it contains the information required in 1910.1200(f), as well as meeting the requirements for any supplemental information, if found on the label.
Question 2: Would OSHA consider a label for a Category 3 flammable liquid that includes the OSHA signal word and hazard statement "Warning. Flammable liquid and vapor" in addition to the CPSC label element of "Warning: Combustible" to be in compliance with HCS 2012?
Response: No. The information in your example would cast doubt on the validity of OSHA's required information in violation of § 1910.1200(f)(2) and Appendix C.3.1. HCS 2012 classifies a chemical as flammable based on its flash point, and in some situations, its initial boiling point. See chapter B.6.2 of Appendix B, Physical Hazard Criteria. The HCS 2012 requirements for Category 3 and Category 4 flammable liquids have different flashpoints than the CPSC's flammable/combustible cut-off limits. Under HCS 2012, a Category 3 flammable liquid has a required signal word "Warning" and hazard statement "flammable liquid and vapor," and a Category 4 flammable liquid has the required signal word of "Warning" and hazard statement of "combustible liquid." Thus, the use of the CPSC "Warning: combustible liquid" casts doubt on the Category 3 flammable liquid classification and may cause an employer or employee to think that the chemical is less hazardous than it is.
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