- 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.
June 10, 2016
Mr. Wade C. Wollermann, P.E.
6871 South Lover's Lane
Franklin, Wisconsin 53132
Dear Mr. Wollermann:
Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. You requested clarification on the requirements of OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012), 29 CFR 1910.1200, for conforming with the United Nations' (UN's) Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), as it applies to products manufactured for shipment to domestic or international destinations. 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 scenarios and questions are presented below, followed by our responses.
Background: You have stated that Endpoint Solutions represents a client that manufactures and distributes various chemicals that are packaged in individual containers of various sizes, and distributed in various shipping containers to downstream distributors and customers. It is clear to you and your client that shipments to domestic locations must comply with the requirements of HCS 2012, as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and shipments to international destinations should comply with the requirements in effect at the shipping destination. However, your client's customers have expressed a desire to see the labeling customized to their need. Specifically, you provided five labeling scenarios and a total of eleven questions combined.
Although your letter refers to "GHS-compliant" labels, to clarify, in the U.S., the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) was aligned with the GHS in 2012 and is the implementing regulation. Therefore, OSHA's responses refer to the requirements under HCS 2012.
Scenario 1: Labeling requirements for individually packaged hazardous (GHS & DOT)substances:A manufacturer containerizes and ships individually packaged quantities (e.g., pints, gallons, drums) of hazardous chemicals. These containers are prepared for transportation to a number of different domestic and international destinations.
Question 1: Is the manufacturer required to label individual containers with GHS-compliant labels regardless of the final destination of the container?
Response: OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard requires manufacturers, importers and distributors to ensure that each shipped container leaving the workplace be labeled, tagged, or marked in accordance with paragraphs 1910.1200(f)(1)(i)-(vi).
OSHA recognizes that some containers may be shipped to destinations outside of the U.S., sealed inside a shipping container and sent directly overseas with no anticipated exposures to workers downstream (i.e., U.S. warehouse and dock workers) during normal conditions of handling. In these situations, when sealed containers of hazardous chemicals are prepared for direct shipment to a destination outside of the U.S., and are placed inside of a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) or other similarly-approved shipping container, the manufacturer may label the sealed product containers for the destination country, rather than with an HCS 2012 label.
However, as OSHA explained in its November 23, 2015, letter to Mr. Stephen Wieroniey (copy enclosed), an HCS 2012 label compliant with paragraph 1910.1200(f)(1) must be on the outside of the shipping container or attached to any accompanying shipping papers or bill of lading. This accommodation will provide basic information to downstream workers, such as warehouse or dock workers who may be exposed in case of a spill or release or other emergency. The shipping container should also be labeled in accordance with DOT and/or International Maritime Organization (IMO) labeling regulations or requirements during shipping.
Scenario 2: Labeling requirements for individually packaged hazardous (GHS & DOT) substances while work is "in process" (i.e., where containers are grouped and packaged awaiting blending): In some cases, individual containers are grouped and packaged together within a larger outer container tray or wrapping while inside the manufacturer's facility prior to shipping.
Question 2: Must the manufacturer label individual containers that are "in process?"
Response: Yes. All containers of hazardous chemicals in the manufacturer's facility must be labeled in accordance with paragraphs 1910.1200(f)(6), (f)(7), or (f)(8), as appropriate.
Scenario 3: Labeling requirements for individually packaged hazardous (GHS & DOT)substances containerized in additional outer packaging for transportation: In some cases, individual containers are grouped and packaged together in a larger outer container or wrapping and the outer packaging is permanently sealed for transportation to the final destination.
Question 3: What are the labeling requirements, regardless of destination, for chemicals manufactured and packaged into individual containers and subsequently placed into an outer shipping container?
Response: If the chemicals are destined for distribution within the U.S., then each individual container must be labeled in accordance with paragraph 1910.1200(f)(1). For chemicals intended for direct shipment to another country, please see response to question 1. In addition, if sealed containers of hazardous chemicals are prepared for direct shipment to a destination outside of the U.S., but are temporarily stored at a manufacturer's on-site warehouse, the manufacturer may label the sealed individual containers for the destination country, rather than with an HCS 2012 label.However, as explained in the November 23, 2015 Wieroniey letter, the manufacturer must label the external packaging (i.e., shipping container) at minimum with workplace (in-house) labeling, in accordance with paragraph 1910.1200(f)(6), while the containers remain at the warehouse. Prior to shipping the containers from the on-site warehouse, an HCS 2012 label, compliant with paragraph 1910.1200(f)(1), is required on the outside of the shipping container or attached to any accompanying shipping papers or bill of lading. And, the shipping container should be labeled in accordance with DOT and/or IMO labeling regulations or requirements during shipping.
Question 4: Is the manufacturer allowed to ship chemicals packaged into individual containers that are not HCS 2012 compliant to a domestic destination, as outlined in OSHA's June 4, 2013, letter of interpretation to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)?
Response: No. All individual containers packaged for shipment inside of the U.S. must be HCS 2012-compliant, in accordance with paragraph 1910.1200(f)(1). The small packaging accommodation outlined in the NIST letter is applicable only when the immediate containers are too small to hold the full HCS 2012 label information.
Question 5: Can the manufacturer ship chemicals packaged in individual containers that are not GHS compliant, and are packaged in an outer container that is also not GHS compliant, to a domestic destination with the understanding that the package will be forwarded unopened directly to an international destination?
Response: No, see the response to question 1.
Question 6: Can the manufacturer ship chemicals packaged in individual containers that are not GHS compliant, and are packaged in an outer container that is also not GHS compliant directly to an international destination?
Response: No, see the response to question 1.
Scenario 4: Labeling requirements for bulk packaged hazardous (GHS & DOT) substance, packaged for distribution to clients for domestic and international distribution: In addition to individual packaging, the manufacturer exports bulk containers (up to hundreds of pounds or gallons) of hazardous solids or liquids. Unlike individual containers with outer packaging, there is no secondary packaging of bulk containers. Appendix C of HCS 2012 does not prohibit additional information on a GHS-compliant label, and OSHA has further clarified that additional supplemental information is permitted if it does not cast doubt on the HCS-required information in OSHA's January 31, 2013 letter of interpretation addressed to Ms. Erin McVeigh.
Question 7: Would affixing a destination country's compliant label, as well as an HCS 2012-compliant label, be considered as casting doubt on the HCS label?
Response: If an internationally GHS-compliant label is included on the immediate container along with the HCS 2012-compliant label information, there must be no conflict/contradiction between the two labels. Although OSHA does not anticipate that an internationally GHS-compliant label would cast doubt on the HCS label, contradictions may arise if another country has adopted a different version of the GHS than the U.S.
Question 8: Does OSHA have any guidance or comment on maintaining GHS compliance while additionally affixing labels for destination countries?
Response: See the response to question 7.
Scenario 5: Labeling requirements for packaged hazardous substances imported from an international source: The manufacturer imports containers of hazardous materials from international destinations, which are either directly delivered to the customers' locations, or directly to the manufacturer for further processing. Before arriving at the final destination, the transport container holding smaller containers of hazardous materials make several stops during the import process, for example, seaside shipping ports, customs, and freight forwarder areas.
Question 9: When must the chemical containers be affixed with the HCS 2012-compliant labels and when must compliant safety data sheets (SDSs) be generated?
Response: The responsibility of manufacturers or importers to assure appropriate labels are affixed to containers of hazardous chemicals (i.e., labels are HCS 2012 compliant), as well as to provide the appropriate SDS, begins when they take control of the containers of hazardous chemicals. Importers and cargo handlers must follow the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(4) where applicable. Prior to shipping imported containers of hazardous chemicals to destinations within the U.S., the manufacturer or importer must assure that each container is appropriately HCS 2012 labeled, in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1200(f)(1). One way an importer can accomplish this is to work with the (overseas) manufacturer to produce an HCS 2012-compliant label and SDS.
Question 10: How long does an importer have, from the time the containers are received, to affix the HCS 2012-compliant labels?
Response: After importers take control of the containers, they must label the hazardous containers with at least workplace labeling in accordance with 1910.1200(f)(6); prior to shipping, importers must label hazardous chemicals in accordance with 1910.1200(f)(1).
Question 11: Regardless of when the HCS 2012-compliant labels must be affixed, who is responsible for generating the labels and SDSs?
Response: The manufacturer or importer is responsible for ensuring that the containers are properly labeled and the appropriate SDSs are HCS 2012-compliant. As stated earlier, the manufacturer or importer can work with the overseas manufacturer to produce HCS 2012-compliant SDSs.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA 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 https://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.
Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs