OSHA Letters of Interpretation Related to GHS and HazCom 2012

OSHA Letters of Interpretation Related to GHS and HazCom 2012

GHS has created a lot of work and a lot of questions for employers and chemical manufacturers alike. To help answer the most perplexing questions, OSHA has recently published a handful of letters of interpretations (LOI) on GHS / HazCom 2012 related inquiries.

MSDSonline will be aggregating them here and providing you links to the most relevant information as it becomes available. Below you’ll find detailed information on labeling small containers, SDS management, and combustible dust.

1. HazCom 2012 Classification of Combustible Dust —December 27, 2013 — GHS Related
This LOI provides valuable information for OSHA inspectors on determining proper classification of combustible dust hazards via labels and safety data sheets. It includes sections on laboratory testing, published test results, and dust particle size. https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=28880

2. HazCom 2012 Labeling of Small Containers — June 4, 2013 — GHS Related
This LOI details OSHA’s current thinking on the labeling of small containers and includes information on using a numbering system to link label information to SDSs, using the DOT exemptions for small quantities, affixing labels to outside containers vs. the containers themselves. The answer to most questions is no…you cannot shortcut the labeling of containers and labels must be attached to the immediate container. That said, it does provide examples of practical accommodations when the manufacturer is able to show it is not feasible to use pull-out labels, fold back labels, or tags. https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=28805

3. HazCom 2012 Combustible Dust — March 25, 2013 — GHS Related
This LOI details information on combustible dust and relevant hazard statements, as well as practical applications for applying the revised HazCom Standard to safety data sheets, shipped labels, and workplace labels.

4. HazCom 2012 Employers Creating SDSs for Manufacturers Out of Businesses — January 31, 2013 — GHS Related
This LOI discusses employers’ responsibilities for maintaining up-to-date safety data sheets and what to do when a supplier goes out of business. Essentially, OSHA says employers do not have to create their own safety data sheets when a product manufacturer goes out of business; however, they are responsible for maintaining the most recent MSDS or SDS. Also, towards the end of the LOI, OSHA says employers who are managing a mix of MSDSs and SDSs must reflect that fact in their HazCom programs and training of employees.

5. HazCom 2012 Labeling and SDS Clarifications — January 31, 2013 — GHS Related
This LOI pertains mostly to the inclusion of Hazards Not Otherwise Classified (HNOC’s) and clarification on how to properly compose and format various sections of an SDS. In it OSHA reiterates the fact that supplemental information can be added to the label and safety data sheet so long as it does not undermine the required information or create confusion.

6. HazCom 2012 Pictogram Requirements for Product Labels —December 20, 2012 — GHS Related
This LOI addresses questions around the use of pre-printed labels for pictograms and the validity of blackening out the unneeded red diamonds. It also clarifies the use of DOT pictograms along side HCS pictograms as well as the definition of a shipped container. On the latter point, OSHA explains that OSHA’s required labeling for shipped containers pertains to the immediate container for the hazardous chemical and not the outside box or overpack which would fall under the jurisdiction of the DOT.

7. HazCom 2012 Listing Carcinogens on Labels — November 11, 2011 — GHS Related
This LOI addresses the requirements of chemical manufacturers and distributors to update labels and safety data sheets within a three month period once a new hazard has been identified. OSHA has a stay of enforcement against issuing citations for failure to update labels, however no such stay exists for safety data sheets. Furthermore, just because there is  a stay against enforcement, that does not mean there is no requirement to follow the standard…which does require updates when new hazards become known.