OSHA and PHMSA Issue Joint Memorandum on Labels

OSHA and PHMSA Issue Joint Memorandum on Labels

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) — a Department of Transportation (DOT) agency that develops regulations for the safe transport of hazardous materials — issued a joint memorandum on September 19, 2016 to clarify each agencies’ requirements for labels on bulk hazardous material shipments.

The main thrust is that HCS-compliant labels and DOT-required labels can be on the same immediate container with no conflicts.

More specifically, the memorandum clarifies that:

  • PHMSA labeling requirements are contained in the U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 100-180) and apply to transportation of hazardous materials in commerce. During transportation, the HMR governs hazard communication labeling requirements.
  • OSHA’s HCS 2012 requires labeling of immediate containers of hazardous chemicals in the workplace, both before and after transportation in commerce.
  • OSHA's HCS 2012 labeling is not required on outer shipping containers in transport, even when DOT's HMR does not require labeling in transportation.
  • The HCS requires communication of hazards for chemicals in bulk DOT shipping containers (e.g., tanker trucks, railcars, etc.) when these containers are also the immediate containers of the chemical by either labeling them with hazard information in the form of an OSHA shipped label, or transmitting the required OSHA shipped labels along with shipping papers, bills of lading or through an electronic means, in such a way they are  immediately available in printed form to workers on the receiving end of a shipment.
  • Section 49 CFR § 172.401(b) of the HMR states that any markings or labels that could be confused or conflict with HMR requirements are prohibited, but 49 CFR § 172.401(c) of the rule also states that this prohibition does not apply to packages labeled in conformance with certain international standards, including the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (i.e., GHS as implemented by OSHA). As such, this memo clarifies and confirms that it is acceptable for bulk packages or containers to include both a DOT HMR label or marking and an OSHA GHS-aligned HCS label.

To learn about ways VelocityEHS can help you manage your inventory of hazardous chemicals, keep track of compliance requirements for chemicals inside your workplace as well as those offered for shipment, or help train employees on DOT requirements, please contact us at 1.888.362.2007.

For more news on PHMSA, related to a new shipping rule that it published (insert date), and its impact on HCS 2012, see our blog article “Nearly Unnoticed PHMSA Final Rule Brings Big Changes: What You Need to Know.”