- 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.
Mar 23, 2017
Ms. Dawn Chappell
P.O. Box 1410
1015 S. College Avenue
Salem, Illinois 62881
Dear Ms. Chappell:
This is in response to your email inquiry to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. You requested assistance on writing safety data sheets (SDSs) for grinding wheels and abrasive products, and asked whether they are exempt from the labeling requirement under OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012), 29 CFR 1910.1200. You also asked in a follow-up email whether grinding wheels when used for wet grinding were articles. This letter constitutes OSHA’s interpretation only of the requirements herein, and may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondences. Your scenario has been paraphrased below followed by our responses.
Scenario: The European Union (EU) classifies grinding wheels and abrasives as articles. In the U.S., grinding wheels cannot be considered articles because, although they are solid as shipped, they may expose the user to hazards in the dusts created during grinding. The Unified Abrasives Manufacturers’ Association (UAMA) agree that extensive testing would be required to prove that these products do not emit more than trace amounts of hazardous materials during use, and there are many variables that would have to be considered. You are concerned that other manufacturers with similar products have developed differing SDSs. Provided along with your initial email were three SDSs – two by Radiac (one Diamond and one Tyrolit Vitrified) and one other by a related company.
Question 1: How should the SDS, Section 2, Hazard(s) identification, be written for grinding wheels and abrasives products?
Response: The HCS places the responsibility to complete SDSs on the manufacturer or importer of the chemical. See 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(1) and (d)(1). OSHA does not make, or approve of, hazard classifications for manufacturers, since it is the manufacturer that is most familiar with a product's composition and its intended use under normal conditions (e.g., packaging, shipping, cutting, burning, heating, or any other processing). It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to consider “any chemical which is known to be present in the workplace in such a manner that employees may be exposed under normal conditions of use or in a foreseeable emergency.” See 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(2). Differing SDSs may exist due to differing knowledge or expectations of the downstream use of a manufacturer’s specific product or chemical. During an inspection, on a case-by-case basis, OSHA may review whether a manufacturer’s, importer’s or responsible party’s hazard classification for a particular chemical or product meets the requirements of the HCS.
However, as general guidance, manufacturers of solid materials such as grinding wheels may separate the classification under Section 2 of the SDS based on the solid material’s normal conditions of use. For example, information on a solid material may be presented based on how a chemical or product is physically altered resulting in dust, fines, chips, or how it is heated above its melting point to cause fumes. The following provides example statements addressing the hazard class and hazard statements only. In addition to the hazard class and hazard statements, the appropriate signal word, symbol(s) (or pictogram(s)), and accompanying precautionary statements are to be included in Section 2 of the SDS.
Example of separated classification:
Classification Intended Use: Physical alteration resulting in dust, fines, and chips
Flammable Solid 1
Eye Irritant 2A
May form combustible dust concentrations in air
Causes serious eye irritation
Suspected of causing cancer <…>
(state route of exposure if not other routes of exposure cause the hazard)
Classification Intended Use: Heating above melting point resulting in fumes
Acute Toxicity 4 (Oral)
Respiratory Sensitization 1
Specific Target Organ Toxicity- Repeated Exposure 1 (STOT-RE 1)
Harmful if swallowed
May cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled
Causes damage to organs <…> through prolonged or repeated exposure <<…>>
<…> (state all organs affected, if known)
<<…>> (state route of exposure if no other routes of exposure cause the hazard)
OSHA did conduct a cursory review of the Radiac (Vitrified Bonded Abrasive Products) SDS, Section 2 that you provided in your letter. As stated above, as part of the HCS classification requirement, the manufacturer must make a reasonable determination as to how the chemical(s) are exposing downstream users to the hazardous chemicals that make up the grinding wheel or abrasive product. There is no requirement under the HCS for a manufacturer to include information on the material being ground (i.e., substrate) in the hazard classification of the grinding wheel or abrasive. However, a manufacturer may include such information in Section 16, Supplemental information, if it so chooses, as long as the information does not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the standardized hazard information.
Regarding the review of the “Related Company SDS,” the three “OSHA approved” statements are unfamiliar to us because OSHA does not approve information on specific labels or SDSs. We therefore advise against using these statements. We do agree, however, that SDSs required under HCS 2012 are different from those required by the EU regulations, and that attempting to produce a single SDS that fully complies with both sets of regulations would be difficult.
Question 2: Are solid grinding wheels and abrasives exempt from HCS 2012 labeling?
Response: No. Solid grinding wheels and abrasives that are classified as hazardous chemicals, even though they are primarily sold as a solid material, are not exempt from the labeling requirements under HCS 2012. Manufacturers must comply with all of the label requirements under 1910.1200(f)(1)(i)-(vi) for shipped material. However, the one-time label rule of paragraph 1910.1200(f)(4), Solid materials, would apply.
Question 3: Are grinding wheels when used for wet grinding considered an article under HCS 2012?
Response: In most cases, grinding wheels and abrasives are not considered "articles" under the HCS. A manufacturer may only determine that its grinding wheel or abrasive qualifies as an "article," if it satisfies the requirements in the definition of an article at 29 CFR § 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.
The key to the definition of an "article," and thus exemption, is the requirement that the manufactured item does "... not release, or otherwise result in exposure to, a hazardous chemical under normal conditions of use ..." Many items appear to meet this definition in their manufactured form, but, as stated above, manufacturers must consider their products' end uses and determine whether downstream users will be exposed to any physical hazard or health risk from exposures to the hazardous chemical(s), before the "article" exemption may apply.
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 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, 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 any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.
Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs