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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.1200

November 20, 1995

The Honorable L. F. Payne
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515-4605

Dear Congressman Payne:

Thank you for your letter of June 28, addressed to Joseph A. Dear, Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on behalf of your constituent, Mr. Alan Cooper. Mr. Cooper is the Director of Riverside Healthcare Center in Danville, Virginia, and is concerned about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), specifically, the requirements for material safety data sheets (MSDS).

The HCS is a performance standard, as opposed to a specification standard, and does not require a specific format for MSDS. The requirements are that the MSDS must be in English and must contain, as a minimum, certain information about the hazardous chemical being addressed. This is spelled out in paragraph 1910.1200(g) of the HCS. Preparers of MSDSs are free to use whatever format they choose, as long as all the required information is presented. OSHA has provided a non-mandatory form (OSHA 174) to serve as a guide, and this is used by some preparers.

In 1993, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) published the American National Standard for Hazardous Industrial Chemicals - Material Safety Data Sheets - Preparation, ANSI Z400.1-1993. The ANSI standard recommends titles and specific order for the sections of a MSDS, and recommends sixteen sections, the first ten of which are the OSHA required elements. This format has been widely accepted and is in use throughout the world. Copies, at $80 each, may be purchased from ANSI, 11 W. 42nd Street, New York, New York 10036.

While the ANSI standard does not exactly meet all of Mr. Cooper's recommendations, it does require that the information on the product identity (name) and the company, including the telephone number, appear in the first section; that the hazards be identified in section three; and that first aid information appear in section four. In many cases this information would appear on the first or second pages. Additionally, ANSI makes other recommendations as to the appearance of the finished document, including type size.

Mr. Cooper is incorrect in stating "Every product in America must have a MSDS sheet." Only chemicals which meet the OSHA definition of "hazardous" are required to have MSDSs. These criteria are found in section c. of the HCS. Employers should discourage suppliers from sending MSDSs for non-hazardous products.

For your information, the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) held a public meeting of its hazard communications workgroup October 19 and 20, 1995. The workgroup was covered to identify ways to improve chemical hazard communication and the right to know in the workplace. A copy of the Federal Register notice which gives the details of the meeting is attached.

I hope this information is helpful.

Sincerely,



Joseph A. Dear
Assistant Secretary

Enclosure



July 31, 1995

The Honorable L.F. Payne
United States Congressman
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515-4605

Dear Congressman Payne:

Thank you for your letter of June 28, addressed to Joseph A. Dear, Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on behalf of your constituent, Mr. Alan Cooper. Mr. Cooper is the Director of Riverside Healthcare Center in Danville, Virginia, and is concerned about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Hazard Communication Standard.

In order to address your concerns fully we are developing a detailed response. We will provide a written reply within 60 days.

Thank you for your patience.

Sincerely,



John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs




June 28, 1995

Joseph A. Dear
Assistant Secretary
U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA
200 Constitution Avenue N. W.
Washington, D.C. 20210-0002

Dear Secretary Dear:

Please find enclosed a letter from Alan Cooper, Director of the Riverside Healthcare Center in Danville, Virginia. He has several sensible recommendations for standardizing information on Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to make them more useful in emergency situations. I hope you will consider these recommendations in updating the current regulations governing the content and format of MSDS's.

I would appreciate your comments on these recommendations, which I will then forward to Mr. Cooper. Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,



L.F. Payne



June 14, 1995

Ford Drummond
Congressman L. F. Payne
2412 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Drummond:

I have enclosed two samples of MSDS's from two different manufacturers. These will be useful for highlighting my recommendations.

The purpose of providing information, particularly information in the case of an emergency, is thwarted by OSHA's form. I have several recommendations that will allow these forms to meet the objective for which they were invented.

1. Sample A & B have differing print as does the hundreds of MSDS we use. I recommend we standardize the print format.

2. Note that Section I on both samples are different. Make the sections follow the same format.

3. In both of these samples, the First Aid procedures are in Section VI. This is not always the case.

4. I recommend the following for Section I of all MSDS sheets:

a. product name in bold letters as in sample B
b. emergency number in bold print listed second
c. first aid procedures listed third in bold print

Every product in America must have a MSDS sheet. As currently written they cannot be used to render aid in emergencies. Let's standardize the form and above all else place the First Aid procedures in bold print in Section I. I hope this helps.

Respectfully,

Alan Cooper, NHA



Enclosures

(For MSDS, see printed copy)


Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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