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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.1200

March 4, 2014

Erik C. Baptist
Counsel
American Petroleum Institute
1220 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

Re:   Request for Interpretation of Application of OSHA's Amended Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012) to Combustible Dust

Dear Mr. Baptist:

This letter is being issued to API to clarify how the March 26, 2012, revisions to OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012) apply to combustible dust. Below I summarize each of your questions and provide our response to it.

  1. Modification of Required Hazard Statement. Under HCS 2012, chemicals that have been classified as combustible dusts must include the following hazard statement on their labels and safety data sheets (SDSs): "May form combustible dust concentrations in air." You ask whether, for chemicals that pose a combustible dust hazard when processed but not in the current shipped form, the responsible party1 may include additional language with the hazard statement. You propose two alternatives (indicated by italics):

    1. If converted to small particles during further processing, handling, or by other means, may form combustible dust concentrations in air.

    2. If small particles are generated during further processing, handling or by other means, may form combustible dust concentrations in air.

    OSHA RESPONSE: Paragraph C.3.1 of Appendix C to HCS 2012 states that the responsible party may provide additional information on a label "when it provides further detail and does not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the standardized hazard information." OSHA views either of the alternatives you propose as falling within C.3.1 because they provide additional detail and do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the required hazard statement where the chemical does not present a combustible dust hazard in the form shipped. Similarly, the required elements listed in Appendix D for SDSs are the minimum information required and OSHA believes that additional information that satisfies C.3.1 may be included in Section 2 of the SDS if the additional information concerns hazard identification. Therefore, it would be acceptable to OSHA if responsible parties included either alternative in conjunction with the required hazard statement on labels and SDSs for such chemicals.

  2. Safety Data Sheets.

    1. Your first question concerns a chemical that is not a combustible dust in the form shipped, and does not present any other hazard under HCS 2012 in the form shipped, and will not present a combustible dust hazard or any other hazards under HCS 2012 in normal conditions of use or foreseeable emergencies unless they are processed by a downstream user in such a manner which reduces its particle size. You ask whether, for such a chemical, the responsible party may include the following additional language at the beginning of the SDS:

      This product is not hazardous in the form in which it is shipped by the manufacturer, but may become hazardous through downstream activities (e.g. grinding, pulverizing) that reduce its particle size. Those hazards are described below.

      OSHA RESPONSE: Yes. These types of additional statements may be added to the SDS so long as they are relevant and do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the classification or other information in the SDS.

    2. You ask whether Section 2 of the SDS for a chemical posing a combustible dust hazard may include precautionary statements about the combustible dust hazard although none are specified by Appendix C of HCS 2012.

      OSHA RESPONSE: Yes. OSHA has no required precautionary statements for combustible dust, and therefore none is required in Section 2 of the SDS. Responsible parties may add their own precautionary statements to Section 2 so long as they are relevant and do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the other information in the SDS.

    3. You ask whether Section 2 of the SDS for a chemical posing a combustible dust hazard may include Hazard Management Information System (HMIS) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) ratings.

      OSHA RESPONSE: Yes. Responsible parties may include HMIS and NFPA ratings in Section 2 of the SDS as long as they do not contradict or cast doubt on the HCS 2012 classification.

  3. Labels on shipped containers

    1. You ask whether it is acceptable for a shipped container containing a chemical that presents a combustible dust hazard to include an HMIS label in addition to the information required by 1910.1200(f)(1) and C.4.30.

      OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, so long as the ratings in the HMIS label do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of label information required by HCS 2012 (C.3.1) or impede the user's ability to identify the information required by HCS 2012 (C.3.2).

    2. Appendix C.4.30, footnote 2, states that where chemicals are not shipped in a dust form but may be processed under normal conditions of use by a downstream user in such a way as to create a combustible dust hazard, the responsible party may provide labels in accordance with Section 1910.1200(f)(4). That provision allows labels to be provided once to downstream users, either with the initial shipment or with the SDS for the chemical. You ask whether, when Section 1910.1200(f)(4) applies, the shipped container may bear a label containing only product identifiers, manufacturer name and address, and an emergency phone number.

      OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, where Section 1910.1200 (f)(4) applies and the HCS 2012 label has already been provided by other means, it is acceptable to provide only this information on a shipped container. In fact, OSHA encourages responsible parties to provide product identifier and contact information on each shipped product whenever they take advantage of the Section 1910.1200 (f)(4) option. However, any information that appears may not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the label information required by HCS 2012.

    3. Finally, you ask whether, under footnote 2 to C.4.30, the Section 1910.1200 (f)(4) partial labeling exemption is available for a liquid that under normal conditions of use may (by evaporation or other process) turn into a solid form that presents a combustible dust hazard.

      OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, assuming the liquid in its shipped form presents no other hazards that would be classified under HCS 2012. If the liquid presents any other hazards, then (f)(4) would not apply. Again, OSHA encourages responsible parties to provide the product identifier and contact information on each such product.



  4. Workplace labels. This issue concerns the workplace labeling requirements under Section 1910.1200(f)(6) in situations where a chemical is not a combustible dust in the form shipped, but may become one when processed by a downstream user. Your first question is whether, when the responsible party provides the label in accordance with Section 1910.1200 (f)(4), the downstream user must label any containers containing the chemical in the workplace. Second, you ask that we clarify the labeling obligations of the downstream user once the product is processed in a way to create the combustible dust hazard.

OSHA RESPONSE:

(1) The one-time label rule of Section 1910.1200(f)(4) applies when the product is a solid metal, solid wood, solid plastic or whole grain, and is not limited to chemicals whose only downstream hazard is the combustible dust hazard. In addition, under footnote 2 to C.4.30, the Section 1910.1200 (f)(4) exemption is also available to other products, including liquids, that present only a combustible dust hazard under normal conditions of use and foreseeable emergencies, but not in the form shipped (as discussed in section 3.c of this letter above).

(2) In situations where a chemical is not a combustible dust in the form shipped, but may become one when processed or handled by a downstream user, and the responsible shipper-party provides the one-time container label in accordance with Section 1910.1200(f)(4), the downstream user's obligation to label any workplace containers of that chemical are determined as follows:

(a) If the chemical will not be processed or handled in a way that creates a combustible dust hazard or any other hazard that would be classified under HCS 2012, there is no Section 1910.1200(f)(6) labeling requirement.

(b) If the chemical will first be placed in a stationary process container (e.g., grinder) where it will be processed in a way that creates a combustible dust hazard, the downstream user would be required to label the stationary process container with the Section 1910.1200(f)(6) label, or may comply with the alternative labeling methods provided by Section 1910.1200(f)(7), and need not label the shipping container.

(c) If the chemical will first be placed in a non-stationary process container where it will be processed in a way that creates a combustible dust hazard, the downstream user would be required to label the non-stationary process container with the Section 1910.1200(f)(6) label, but not the shipping container.

(d) If the chemical will be processed or handled in a way that creates a combustible dust hazard before it is placed in a process container, the chemical would be subject to the Section 1910.1200(f)(6) labeling requirement once the chemical is brought into the work area where it will be processed in a way to create the combustible dust hazard. If the chemical is not in a container when brought into the area where it will be processed, no Section 1910.1200(f)(6) labeling would be required prior to processing.

(e) Finally, the workplace labeling requirements in Section 1910.1200(f)(6) apply only to chemicals that are in containers2 . Thus, individual boards or pipes that might create a combustible dust hazard when cut do not need to be labeled under Section 1910.1200 (f)(6). It is permissible (and OSHA encourages) the use of signs or placards to advise workers of the hazard in such circumstances, but signs and placards are not required.

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 superseded by changes to OSHA rules, including but not limited to future revisions to the Hazard Communication Standard and the adoption of a standard concerning combustible dust.

Sincerely,

David Michaels, Ph.D, MPH

cc: Lawrence P. Halprin, Esq.
Keller and Heckman LLP
Attorney for API


1 In this letter, the term "responsible party" refers to a person required by HCS 2012 to provide labels and SDSs to downstream users.

2 OSHA provides further guidance on what it considers to be a container under the HCS in its directive entitled Inspection Procedures for the Hazard Communication Standard, CPL 2-2.38D, March 20, 1998.


Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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