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Title: 08/05/2015 - Hazard communication effective dates and labels
Record Type: InterpretationStandard Number: 1910.1200(j); 1910.1200(f)

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 http://www.osha.gov

August 5, 2015

Mr. Raymond Sierminski
Avantor Performance Materials, Inc.
3477 Corporate Parkway, Suite 200
Center Valley, Pennsylvania 18034

Dear Mr. Sierminski:

Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. Your questions concern the requirements under the revised Hazard Communication standard (HCS 2012), 29 CFR 1910.1200, regarding the use of labels and pictograms. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements herein, and may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondence. Your paraphrased questions and our responses are below. Please excuse the delay in our response.

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Question 1: Are there any other options being considered when dealing with preprinted labels that accommodate multiple pictograms, wherein any unused blank red frames must be blacked-out?

Response: OSHA has received suggestions to allow blank pictograms with words inside the unused red frame along the lines of "no GHS label" or "Intentionally blank." OSHA does not consider this to be compliant with HCS 2012 because it would contribute to clutter on the product label and distract from the primary message. OSHA previously explained this in a letter of interpretation to Ms. Jennifer Gibson, dated April 23, 2015 (see enclosed).

Question 2: Will OSHA allow manufacturers to place an additional label (for example, a "stick-on" label) with the required pictograms and associated product safety statements on packages that already have an existing product label previously labeled under the 1994 Hazard Communication standard?

Response: Yes, as long as the container's new label is not easily removed or falls off showing the previous label, and as long as it completely covers the original label so that there is no confusion by the reader.

Question 3: If the manufacturer ships its products both directly to end-user customers as well as to distributors (who, in turn, ship to end-users), are such manufacturers considered to be distributors and therefore provided until December 1, 2015, to have all products labeled in accordance with the revised standard? Or will both deadlines apply, depending on the method of sale?

Response: Manufacturers are responsible for the June 1, 2015, effective date, regardless of whether they ship products to a distributor or directly to an end-user. OSHA recognizes that some manufacturers and importers may be unable to create updated SDSs for mixtures because they have not received the necessary information from upstream suppliers. In this circumstance, OSHA will use its enforcement discretion to evaluate whether the manufacturer or importer has performed due diligence and made good faith efforts to obtain the necessary information to comply with the June 1, 2015 effective date. Manufacturers and importers should therefore document all efforts to alternatively obtain the required information, such as attempts to contact their supplier to obtain the proper information; reasonable efforts to find alternate suppliers who could provide timely and accurate classifications; and reasonable efforts to find relevant data themselves. Where the manufacturer or importer provides sufficient documentation of these efforts, OSHA will, on a case-by-case basis, exercise enforcement discretion to not cite the manufacturer or importer for not having HCS 2012-compliant SDSs.

On July 20, 2015, OSHA issued the revised Hazard Communication 2012 directive, CPL 02-02-079. The revised directive includes guidance on hazard classification, and updates the requirements for labeling and for safety data sheets (SDSs). The Instruction also provides guidance to compliance safety and health officers on how to enforce the revised Hazard Communication standard during its transition period and when fully implemented. The revised HCS 2012 directive titled Inspection Procedures for the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012) can be found at http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/Directive_pdf/CPL_02-02-079.pdf.* [Note: Our thoroughly hyperlinked version is far more readable.]

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Question 4: After the implementation dates of June 1, 2015, and December 1, 2015, if end-users of products are inspected by OSHA, and such end-users can provide evidence that items not in compliance with labeling requirements in the new standard were received prior to the applicable implementation date, will such end-users be cited?

Response: HCS 2012 requires the following, per paragraph 1910.1200(f)(11): Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, or employers who become newly aware of any significant information regarding the hazards of a chemical shall revise the labels for the chemical within six months of becoming aware of the new information, and shall ensure that labels on containers of hazardous chemicals shipped after that time contain the new information. If the chemical is not currently produced or imported, the chemical manufacturer, importer, distributor, or employer shall add the information to the label before the chemical is shipped or introduced into the workplace again."

Paragraph (f)(11) does not require labels that are already in the stream of commerce and not in the control of the manufacturer, importer, or distributor to be revised based on new hazard information. Rather, it requires the manufacturer or importer to update the labels and ensure that all future shipments of the chemical include the updated label. However, a distributor or employer may request updated labels from the manufacturer or importer to ensure that it has all the information concerning the chemical.

However, if an employer (end-user) otherwise becomes aware of new information about a chemical hazard in the workplace, this new information must be communicated to workers within six months.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA's requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our 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 assure that you are using the correct information and guidance, please consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the Directorate of Enforcement Programs at (202) 693-2100.

Sincerely,

Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs


*Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Enforcement Programs at (202) 693-2129 for assistance accessing PDF materials.


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The official, public domain, OSHA version of this document is available at http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=30209&p_text_version=FALSE