- 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.
June 29, 2015
Mr. Steve Luecke, CIH
8406 Benjamin Rd., Suite J
Tampa, Florida 33634
Dear Mr. Luecke:
Thank you for your emailed letter, March 19, 2015, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Directorate of Evaluation and Analysis. Your letter was forwarded to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs for a response. You requested an interpretation on whether gas detector tubes (e.g., those manufactured by Dräger, Gastec, Kitagawa, and others) would be considered an "article" under OSHA's Hazard Communication standard (HCS), 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 question and our response are provided below.
Question: Is a gas detector tube used to determine concentrations of gases and vapors in the air considered an "article" under the HCS?
Response: For a gas detector tube to be exempt from the HCS as an "article," it must satisfy the requirements specified in the definition of an article at paragraph 1910.1200(c):
- "Article" means a manufactured item other than a fluid or particle: (i) which is formed to a specific shape or design during manufacture; (ii) which has end use function(s) dependent in whole or in part upon its shape or design during end use; and (iii) which under normal conditions of use does not release more than very small quantities, e.g., minute or trace amounts of a hazardous chemical (as determined under paragraph (d) of this section), and does not pose a physical hazard or health risk to employees."
If the manufacturer or importer makes a reasonable determination that its product satisfies the definition specified in paragraph 1910.1200(c), including that it poses no health risk or physical hazard to downstream workers, then the product would be considered an article and exempt from the HCS's requirements, per section 1910.1200(b)(6)(v), and no HCS compliant label or SDS is required. However, if the product does not meet the definition of an article, then the product must have a label and an SDS.
In your inquiry, you suggested that manufacturers, such as Dräger, Gastec, Kitagawa, and others, have all made the determination that their detector tubes meet the "article" definition under the HCS. The supplemental information provided in your letter from one manufacturer did not appear to include information necessary for proper evaluation and classification of the chemical hazards. OSHA would base its compliance determination on the documentation provided by the manufacturer or importer as justification of the hazard classification. Therefore, as provided above, if a manufacturer or importer makes a reasonable determination that its gas detector tube(s) satisfy the requirements specified at paragraph 1910.1200(c), and there is no potential employee exposure to the material or substance within the detector tube during normal conditions of use and foreseeable emergencies, then a gas detector tube may be considered an article, and exempt from the HCS's requirements, per paragraph 1910.1200(b)(6)(v).
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