- 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.
March 31, 2021
Mr James. Lee
Senior Compliance Analyst
5600 Lindbergh Dr.
Loveland, CO 80538
Dear Mr. Lee:
Thank you for your email to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Directorate of Enforcement Programs, regarding labeling requirements 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 situation not delineated within your original response. Your presented scenario and question are summarized below, followed by our reply.
Scenario: Your company ships hazardous chemicals in quaternary packaging kits. These packaging kits consist of four (4) components, which includes an immediate, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary container. Your packaging scenario details individual vials as immediate containers which are then placed into a secondary container (e.g., plastic bag or box). The secondary container is placed inside of a tertiary container comprised of expanded polystyrene. The tertiary container is then placed inside a corrugated cardboard box which is prepared for shipping. The immediate containers (e.g., vials) and the secondary container are labeled in compliance with the HCS. The quaternary container (e.g., cardboard box) is labeled in compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements.
NOTE: The response provided to your question pertains only to OSHA's HCS. Label requirements pertaining to DOT should be addressed to DOT.
Question: Does the tertiary container (e.g., container comprised of expanded polystyrene) packaging require HCS compliant labeling?
Reply: The HCS requires labeling of the immediate container. See 29 CFR 1910.1200(c), (f)(1). In the scenario you described, the immediate container (e.g., vials) and secondary container may be labeled in accordance to OSHA's practical accommodation for small containers because the full HCS label information cannot be attached to the immediate container. Please see OSHA's letter to Mr. Mark Collatz dated February 10, 2015.1 OSHA does not view the tertiary container in the above scenario as an immediate container, and therefore, would not require the container be HCS labeled. However, if the tertiary container serves as an overpack to contain a ruptured or leaking immediate or secondary container, it must be labeled in accordance with the HCS. Please see OSHA's letter to Mr. Gary Valasek dated December 20, 2012.2 In the scenario you described, OSHA does not require the outer shipping container to have HCS compliant labeling, but it is allowed.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. I hope you find this information helpful. OSHA's requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. 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 www.osha.gov. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.
Patrick J. Kapust, Acting Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs