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.

February 10, 2015

Mr. Mark Collatz
Director of Regulatory Affairs
Adhesive and Sealant Council
7101 Wisconsin Avenue #990
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

Dear Mr. Collatz:

Thank you for your September 22, 2014 email to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA), Directorate of Standards and Guidance. Your email was forwarded to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs for a response. You requested a practical accommodation for the labeling of small packages under the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), 29 CFR 1910.1200, which would permit a manufacturer to include, at a minimum: the product identifier; appropriate pictograms; supplier information; and a reference to the safety data sheet (SDS).

OSHA understands your concern that HCS 2012 labels contain more information, which may be difficult to include on small containers. As such, OSHA developed a practical accommodation to address situations where the full HCS 2012 required labeling information cannot be provided through the use of pull-out labels, fold back labels, tags or other methods.

OSHA's practical accommodation requires that small containers (i.e., the immediate container holding the hazardous chemical), contain, at a minimum, the following information:

  • Product identifier;
  • Appropriate pictograms;
  • Manufacturer's name and phone number;
  • Signal word; and
  • A statement indicating the full label information for the chemical is provided on the outside package.

Additionally, the outside packaging, at a minimum, must include the following:

  • All the applicable label elements, as defined in 29 CFR 1910.1200(f)(1).
  • The outside package must be clearly marked to ensure the complete label elements are visible and it must clearly inform users that the small container must be stored in the outer container bearing the complete label. The complete label must be maintained on the outer package (e.g., not torn, defaced, destroyed).
  • The manufacturer must ensure that any alternative labeling used does not conflict with any other standards. As such, the outside packaging must not present a hazard while the material is being stored.

The outside packaging described above is the container (e.g., bag, box) that the immediate product container is placed into; it does not refer to the exterior shipping container. In no case is it acceptable to only label the outside packaging; the immediate container must be labeled. To provide the most information possible, OSHA encourages manufacturers, importers, and distributors to add as much information as feasible to the small container labels.

Based on the requirements listed above, the practical accommodation you proposed in your email would not meet OSHA's requirements, because it fails to include the signal word on the label. Also, rather than referencing the safety data sheet (SDS), in cases where it is infeasible to include hazard and precautionary statements on the immediate container's label, it is permissible to provide this information on the outer packaging, so long as a statement indicating where the full label information can be found is included on the immediate container.

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