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.

November 29, 2017                                                                                                                                                      

 

Mr. Joe McCarthy
Dell Tech Laboratories
100 Collip Circle, Suite 220
London, Ontario, Canada
N6G 4X8

Dear Mr. McCarthy:

Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Directorate of Enforcement Programs regarding differences between OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), 29 CFR 1910.1200, and the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) Revision 5. This letter constitutes OSHA’s interpretation only of the requirements herein, and may not be applicable to any situation not delineated within your original correspondence. Your question has been paraphrased below, followed by our reply.

Background: You provided a tabulated summary comparing the hazard and precautionary statements in HCS 2012 and GHS Revision 5. You also referenced the OSHA compliance directive CPL 02-02-079Inspection Procedures for the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012), July 9, 2015, which states, “HCS 2012 is based on GHS Revision 3 (2009). Some manufacturers, importers, distributors, or employers may want to comply with more recent or future versions of GHS issued by the UN, such as Revision 4. However, using Rev 4 or a more recent version may result in non-compliance with HCS 2012 if it contradicts or cast doubt on OSHA required information.”

Question: Are the hazard and precautionary statements found in GHS Revision 5 acceptable under OSHA HCS 2012?

Reply: It is the responsibility of the chemical manufacturer or importer to review available information to properly classify and then determine the appropriate hazard and precautionary statements that must be added to a label or safety data sheet. See 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(1). OSHA would make a compliance determination on a case-by-case basis during an inspection, therefore we cannot provide a blanket response to the general question you have asked. As stated in OSHA’s compliance directive, manufacturers may follow the most recent version of the GHS as long as the hazard information does not cast doubt on HCS 2012 required information. As OSHA explained in the directive, classification or hazard categories may be different in a more recent version of GHS than in HCS 2012. For example, GHS Revision 4 changed flammable aerosols to aerosols and introduced a new hazard category for aerosols (Category 3 (nonflammable)). In those cases, it is not permissible to use the hazard and precautionary statements from the more recent revision to the GHS because it would contradict or cast doubt on required information.

However, it is acceptable to use the hazard and precautionary statements from a more recent revision of the GHS when the difference is minor. OSHA considers the below examples of minor changes that do not contradict or cast doubt on the required information:

 

Classification

Precautionary Statements for Prevention

Comparison

HCS 2012

GHS Rev. 5

Flammable Gas 1

Keep away from heat/ sparks/ open flames/ hot surfaces. – No Smoking.

Keep away from heat, hot surfaces, sparks, open flames or other ignition sources. No Smoking.

GHS Rev. 5 includes “or other ignition sources”

Flammable Liquids 4

Keep away from flames and hot surfaces. –No smoking.

Keep away from heat, hot surfaces, sparks, open flames or other ignition sources. No Smoking.

GHS Rev. 5 includes “heat, sparks, or other ignition sources”

 

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.

Sincerely,


 

Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs