Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.1200; 1910.1200(b)(6)(iv); 1910.1200(f)(2)(i) ; 1910.1200(g)(7)(iii)


This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any situation not delineated within the original correspondence.


July 31, 2008

Mr. Sean Youmans
Dakota Craft, Inc.
P.O. Box 2488
Rapid City, SD 57709

Dear Mr. Youmans:

This is in response to your letter of April 3, 2008 to U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter was forwarded to OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs for response. Your letter requests an interpretation of OSHA's Hazard Communication standard (HCS), 29 CFR 1910.1200. You specifically ask for information regarding OSHA's requirements for labels and material safety data sheets (MSDS) as they relate to distributors of lumber. A paraphrased description of your business operation, your questions and our responses are below.

You indicate that your company has three truss and wall manufacturing plants, three installation crews and one builder supply facility. Your inquiries relate to the building supply facility only, as you indicated that you have no questions regarding requirements of the HCS as they apply to your manufacturing and construction operations. You provided clarification to a member of my staff regarding the physical logistics of your operations. You indicated that the building supply division of your business is physically separate from the manufacturing and installation portions of your business, and the building supply division conducts retail distribution operations from a different establishment location.

Question 1: Our understanding of 19 CFR 1910.1200(g)(7)(iii) is that as a retail distributor who also has commercial accounts, we are only obligated to supply a material safety data sheet upon the request of our customer. Does OSHA agree with our understanding of that provision of the standard?

Response 1: Yes, 29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(7)(iii) states "Retail distributors selling hazardous chemicals to employers having a commercial account shall provide a material safety data sheet to such employers upon request, and shall post a sign or otherwise inform them that a material safety data sheet is available." Assuming that the building supply division is engaged in retail trade but also has commercial accounts, that portion of the business has to notify their commercial customers of the availability of MSDSs and to provide them upon request.

Question 2: Under 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(6)(iv) lumber is required to be labeled in accordance with the standard where it has been treated with a hazardous chemical and/or if it may be sawed or cut as part of its downstream use. Is that a correct statement?

Response 2: Yes, that is a correct understanding of the requirements for labeling solid wood. Under the HCS, solid wood is exempt from coverage unless it has been treated with a hazardous chemical or in those situations where it may be cut or sawed in its downstream use. If the wood has been treated with a hazardous chemical, then each shipment of the wood must be labeled with the hazards related to that chemical. But where only the physical form of the wood will be changed by the downstream user (by sawing or cutting), and where the wood has not been treated with a hazardous chemical, only the initial shipment is required to be labeled. In that circumstance, subsequent shipments need only be labeled if the information on the label needs updating (29 CFR 1910.1200(f)(2)(i)).

Question 3: As it is the responsibility of the lumber processor to maintain labels and MSDSs, does the retail distributor also have a responsibility to maintain these documents to ensure that the information is passed down to their commercial/retail customer? Our processor/supplier has been sending us unlabeled shipments of wood.

Response 3: Under the provisions of the HCS, your supplier is only required to label the first shipment of an individual type of wood it sends to you. If this wood product is treated with a hazardous chemical, then each subsequent shipment (as opposed to only the initial shipment) would have to be labeled in accordance with the HCS. A retail distributor with commercial accounts is responsible for providing hazard information to their own customers.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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 appraised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

Sincerely,



Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs


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