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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.
July 20, 2016
Mr. Stuart Chundrlek
ThreeBond International Inc.
6184 Schumacher Park Drive
West Chester, Ohio 45069
Dear Mr. Chundrlek:
Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. Your letter requested verification of your responsibility for container labeling as required by the 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 highlighted interpretations have been paraphrased below, followed by our responses.
Scenario: ThreeBond International Inc. receives unlabeled tubes from Japan packed 20 to a box with a hazard communication label only on the master pack. Safety data sheets are made available from the manufacturer and the outer container has all of the information on the materials inside of the tubes.
Question: Do we need hazard communication labels on the tubes of unlabeled adhesive received from oversees manufacturers? If the unlabeled container (i.e., tubes) has not left the premises of the importer, can the material continue to be warehoused in an unlabeled state?
Response: Under the HCS, the immediate container of a hazardous chemical must be labeled. See 29 CFR 1910.1200(c), (f)(1). An importer’s responsibility to assure appropriate labels are on incoming containers of hazardous chemicals (i.e., labels are HCS 2012-compliant) begins when the importer takes control of the containers of hazardous chemical. Prior to shipping imported containers of hazardous chemicals to destinations within the United States, the importer must assure that each container is appropriately HCS 2012 labeled (i.e., in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1200(f)(1)). The importer should work with the (overseas) manufacturer to produce a U.S. compliant HCS 2012 label.
Paragraph 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(4) applies to work operations where employees only handle chemicals in sealed containers which are not opened under normal conditions of use (e.g., marine cargo handling, warehousing, or retail sales). For these operations, if the unlabeled tubes are kept in the HCS 2012 labeled sealed container (master pack) while in the warehouse, there is no requirement to affix an HCS 2012 to each individual tube. However, once the sealed container is opened while in the warehouse, then an HCS 2012-compliant label must be affixed to each individual tube in accordance with paragraph (f)(1), or proper workplace labels must be affixed in accordance with paragraph (f)(6).
Question: Prior to leaving the importer’s premises for delivery to other warehouses, or the final customer, must the product be labeled in accordance with OSHA’s HCS 2012 or other applicable standard such as by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)?
Response: Yes. Prior to shipping imported containers of hazardous chemicals to destinations within the U.S., the importer must assure that each container is appropriately HCS 2012 labeled, in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1200(f)(1). OSHA exempts products from HCS labeling when they are subject to a consumer product safety standard or labeling requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. See 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(5)(v). The Consumer Product Safety Act defines a consumer product as "any article, or component thereof, produced or distributed (i) for sale to a consumer for use in or around a permanent or temporary household or residence, a school, in recreation, or otherwise, or (ii) for the personal use, consumption or enjoyment of a consumer in or around a permanent or temporary household or residence, a school, in recreation, or otherwise..." 15 U.S.C. §2052(a)(5).
Question: If an importer knows that at least one downstream user considers the product a consumer product, is it reasonable for the importer to treat the whole set of tubes as a consumer product? Does the size of the container determine whether a chemical is a consumer product?
Response: It is the responsibility of the manufacturer or importer of a particular chemical to make the determination whether it meets the CPSC’s definition of a consumer product. We suggest you contact the CPSC for questions related to their requirements. The CPSC can be reached at:
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: (301) 504-7923
Fax: (301) 504-0124 and (301) 504-0025
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 ensure 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