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The OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.1200, the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012), deals with hazardous chemicals in the workplace and covers Safety Data Sheets, workplace labeling, training, and more. The standard has specific definitions for chemical manufacturers, distributors, and importers:
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Under paragraph (d) of HCS 2012, chemical manufacturers and importers are required to perform a hazard classification on substances which they produce or import and convey these findings on the product label and Safety Data Sheet:
Chemical manufacturers and importers shall evaluate chemicals produced in their workplaces or imported by them to classify the chemicals in accordance with this section. For each chemical, the chemical manufacturer or importer shall determine the hazard classes, and where appropriate, the category of each class that apply to the chemical being classified. Employers are not required to classify chemicals unless they choose not to rely on the classification performed by the chemical manufacturer or importer for the chemical to satisfy this requirement.
Chemical manufacturers, importers or employers classifying chemicals shall identify and consider the full range of available scientific literature and other evidence concerning the potential hazards. There is no requirement to test the chemical to determine how to classify its hazards. Appendix A to §1910.1200 shall be consulted for a classification of health hazards, and Appendix B to §1910.1200 shall be consulted for the classification of physical hazards.
Paragraph (g)(7) of the HCS distinguishes between a "distributor" and a "retail distributor." This distinction recognizes that retail establishments primarily deal with the general public. This type of operation makes it difficult to determine, at the point of purchase, whether a customer is an employer who, by law, needs a Safety Data Sheet. Retail distributors are permitted to use an "on-request" system to preclude the necessity of determining every customer's need for an SDS at the time of purchase or of providing an SDS to every customer.
Distributors, resellers and repackagers may be interested in our SDS FAQ question titled As a distributor, can we change the name and address on an SDS?
Like all employers, any manufacturer, distributor or importer must provide information to their employees about the hazardous chemicals to which they are exposed in their workplaces by means of a written hazard communication program. The program includes labels and other forms of warning, safety data sheets, safety practices, and training.
Distributors and manufacturers are also required to transmit SDS and labeling information to their customers who are employers. This is called a "downstream flow" of information that assures that each subsequent employer who receives the hazardous material is apprised of the hazards.
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See also: American Chemistry Council (formerly the Chemical Manufacturers Association).
Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.
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