WHAT AND WHO ARE REGULATED?
29 CFR 1910.1200(b)
HazCom applies to almost every organization and employer covered by OSHA regulations. It applies to manufacturers, importers, and distributors of hazardous chemicals and to employers with employees exposed or potentially exposed to hazardous chemicals in general industry workplaces, shipyards, marine terminals, longshore operations, and construction sites, and in certain agricultural workplaces.
Chemical Manufacturers and Importers
HazCom requires chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate and classify the hazardous chemicals that they produce or import in terms of their physical and health hazards, as well as to establish hazard communication programs for their workers.
Distributors of hazardous chemical products must transmit the required information about hazards to employers that purchase or receive such products from them.
Employers that store and use chemicals but do not produce or import them do not have to comply with the requirement to evaluate and classify the hazards of those chemicals; they must have a workplace program and a system in place for communicating information to their workers. “Use” in the context of HazCom means to package, handle, react, emit, extract, generate as a by-product, or transfer.
Laboratories that ship hazardous chemicals. Laboratory employers that ship hazardous chemicals are considered to be either chemical manufacturers or distributors. They must ensure that any containers of hazardous chemicals leaving the laboratory are properly labeled, tagged, or marked and that a safety data sheet (SDS) is provided to distributors and other employers.Laboratories that do not ship hazardous chemicals.
Such laboratories must ensure that labels on incoming containers are not defaced, that SDSs are readily accessible to employees, and that employees receive HazCom training and are provided information about the chemicals.
Laboratories where employees handle only chemicals in sealed containers are not required to maintain a written HazCom program.
Facilities That Handle Only Sealed Containers
Employers in workplaces where employees handle only hazardous chemicals in sealed containers, such as marine cargo areas and warehouses, are not required to maintain a written hazard communication program for the chemicals. They must, however, still follow HazCom requirements for container or package labeling, availability of SDSs, and must provide information and training to employees concerning chemical substances.
According to this OSHA letter of interpretation
, salon operators who have independent beauty salon contractors working under contractual agreements do not relieve the salon operator from responsibility as an employer under HazCom. This depends on whether the entities engaged in the salon are functioning as employers or employees. There needs to be a determination of whether there is an employer/employee relationship.
Concerning drug manufacturers, this OSHA letter of interpretation
states that HazCom applies only to drug manufacturers and importers that have determined the pharmaceuticals they produce to be hazardous and that are known to be present in the workplace in such a manner that employees are exposed under normal conditions of use or in a foreseeable emergency.
29 CFR 1910.1200(c)
HazCom applies to any hazardous chemical in the workplace to which employees would normally be exposed under normal conditions or in a foreseeable emergency. The rule requires all employers that manufacture, import, distribute, or otherwise use hazardous substances to transmit the information about hazards to employees who work with those substances through a written hazard communication program, labels, SDSs, and an employee information and training program.
Under HazCom, “chemical” is defined as any substance or mixture of substances.
A “hazardous chemical” is any chemical that is classified as a physical hazard or health hazard, a simple asphyxiant, combustible dust, pyrophoric gas, or hazard not otherwise classified (HNOC).
A “mixture” is a combination or a solution composed of two or more substances in which they do not react.
Examples of a “foreseeable emergency” include control equipment failures and ruptures in containers but do not include chemical releases resulting from accidental fires. HazCom covers both physical hazards (such as flammability) and health hazards (such as irritation, lung damage, and cancer). Most chemicals used in the workplace have some hazard potential and, thus, will be covered by the rule.
“Classification” means to identify the relevant data regarding the hazards of a chemical; review those data to ascertain the hazards associated with the chemical; and decide whether the chemical will be classified as hazardous according to the definition of hazardous chemical. In addition, classification for health and physical hazards includes the determination of the degree of hazard, where appropriate, by comparing the data with the criteria for health and physical hazards.
“Hazard category” means the division of criteria within each hazard class, e.g., oral acute toxicity, and flammable liquids include four hazard categories. These categories compare hazard severity within a hazard class and should not be taken as a comparison of hazard categories more generally.
“Hazard class” means the nature of the physical or health hazards, e.g., flammable solid, carcinogen, and oral acute toxicity.
“Health hazard” means a chemical that is classified as posing one of the following hazardous effects:
- Acute toxicity (any route of exposure);
- Skin corrosion or irritation;
- Serious eye damage or eye irritation;
- Respiratory or skin sensitization;
- Germ cell mutagenicity;
- Reproductive toxicity;
- Specific target organ toxicity (single or repeated exposure); or
- Aspiration hazard.
The criteria for determining whether a chemical is classified as a health hazard are detailed in Appendix A to 29 CFR 1910.1200.
“Physical hazard” means a chemical that is classified as posing one of the following hazardous effects:
- Flammable (gases, aerosols, liquids, or solids);
- Oxidizer (liquid, solid, or gas);
- pyrophoric (liquid or solid);
- Organic peroxide;
- Corrosive to metal;
- Gas under pressure; or
- Chemicals which, in contact with water, emit flammable gas.
The criteria for determining whether a chemical is classified as a physical hazard are available in Appendix B to 29 CFR 1910.1200.
Hazardous wastes are exempted from the standard because there are special requirements for hazardous waste workers (29 CFR 1910.120, 40 CFR 264.16, and 40 CFR 265.16). Other exempted products are those subject to labeling of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA); Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA); the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; and the Consumer Product Safety Act. Chemicals covered under TSCA are subject to the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) hazard communication rule.
The following specific items are also exempt from HazCom requirements:
- Articles (manufactured items formed or shaped in ways that do not release or result in exposure to a hazard under normal use);
- Tobacco or tobacco products;
- Food or alcoholic beverages sold in retail establishments or foods intended for consumption by workers;
- Drugs in a form available for retail sale or intended for consumption by workers; and
- Cosmetics for the personal use of employees in the workplace or in a retail organization, packaged for retail sale.
This OSHA letter of interpretation clarifies that “articles” are exempt from HazCom requirements because they do not present a hazardous exposure to employees
Certain wood products are subject to HazCom requirements. Only wood products that pose no hazard to employees, wood that has the potential for flammability or combustibility, or lumber that will not be processed are still exempted. Wood that has been coated or treated by a hazardous chemical or that will be subsequently sawed or cut and generate any dust is covered by HazCom requirements.
CONDITIONS FOR EMPLOYEE EXEMPTION FROM COVERAGE
Employees who handle hazardous chemicals in nonroutine, isolated instances are not covered for those chemicals. For example, an office employee who periodically changes the toner in a copier machine would not need information or training under HazCom for the toner.
OSHA, in this letter of interpretation, indicates that office chemicals, such as white-outs, adhesives, cleaning agents, and copier chemicals, are exempt under the provisions of the rule as consumer products. They would fall under HazCom only when they are used with greater frequency or duration than a normal consumer or for uses not intended by the manufacturer. For instance, if an employee is hired to service the machine (such as for a copier repair position), HazCom would be applicable.
29 CFR 1910.1200(d) and 29 CFR 1910.1200, Appendices A and B
The quality of the employer’s hazard communication program depends on the adequacy and accuracy of the hazard evaluation and classification process—in other words, employers must know which chemicals in their workplace are hazardous.
Manufacturers and Importers
Chemical manufacturers and importers must evaluate each chemical they produce or import in order to classify the chemicals and chemical mixtures according to their physical and health hazards.
Process to classify and categorize chemical hazards. For each chemical, the chemical manufacturer or importer must determine the hazard classes and, where appropriate, the category of each class that applies to the chemical being classified
The hazard evaluation process requires the chemical manufacturer to:
- Identify the relevant data regarding the hazards of a chemical;
- Review those data to determine the hazards associated with the chemical;
- Decide whether the chemical will be classified as hazardous according to the definition of hazardous chemical in the rule; and
- Determine the degree of hazard, where appropriate, by comparing the data with the criteria for health and physical hazards.
Resources to assist with classification. Manufacturers and importers must identify and consider the full range of available scientific literature and other evidence concerning the potential hazards of a chemical or chemical mixture. There is no requirement to test the chemical to determine how to classify its hazards.
OSHA has provided classifiers with the option of relying on the classification listings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program for making classification decisions regarding carcinogenicity rather than applying the criteria themselves.
Chemical mixtures. Chemical manufacturers and importers evaluating chemical mixtures must follow the procedures described in Appendices A and B of the rule to determine when mixtures of the classified chemicals are covered by hazard communication requirements. They may rely on the information provided on the current SDSs of the individual ingredients, except where they know or should know through reasonable diligent review that the SDS misstates or omits required information
In a November 19, 2013, letter of interpretation, a chemical manufacturer asks if—in chemical mixtures—classified based on whole mixture test data, the ingredients need to be listed in Section 3 (composition/information on ingredients) of the SDS. According to OSHA, yes, per 29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(2)(iii), all ingredients that are classified as health hazards and are present at or above their cutoff value/concentration limit or present a health risk below the cutoff value/concentration limit must be listed in Section 3 of the SDS
Employers That Are Not Chemical Manufacturers or Importers
Employers that are not chemical manufacturers or importers and that receive chemicals into the workplace may choose to rely on the information in SDSs and chemical labels supplied by the chemical manufacturer or importer.
If an employer chooses not to rely on the classification performed by the chemical manufacturer or importer for the chemical, the employer must conduct its own hazard classification according to the same process prescribed for manufacturers and importers.
Labels, Tags, and Markings
29 CFR 1910.1200(f) and 29 CFR 1910.1200, Appendix C
Chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors must label every hazardous chemical container with key information on the substance it contains, and worker training must include an explanation of the labeling system.
Companies that manufacture or import chemicals must create the standardized label for a particular chemical that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
The employer that uses hazardous chemicals must ensure that each hazardous chemical covered by HazCom has an appropriate label that remains firmly attached and legible; just as importantly, the employer must make sure that all exposed employees know how to read the label and use the information it conveys to protect themselves.
For additional details, see the national Labels analysis
29 CFR 1910.1200(g) and 29 CFR 1910.1200, Appendix D
Manufacturers, importers, or distributors must provide an SDS to their customers for each hazardous chemical at the time of the first shipment of the chemical.
The SDS is a standardized 16-section document prepared by the manufacturer or importer of a chemical that describes the physical and chemical properties, physical and health hazards, routes of exposure, precautions for safe handling and use, emergency and first-aid procedures, control measures, and other information about the chemical.
For additional details, see the national Safety Data Sheet analysis.
29 CFR 1910.1200(i) and 29 CFR 1910.1200, Appendix E
A trade secret may consist of any formula, pattern, device, or compilation of information that is used in one’s business and that gives that business an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors that do not know or use it. In this letter of interpretation, OSHA explains when an employer can claim trade secret status and what is required for an employer to claim trade secret status of a hazardous chemical ingredient.
Chemical manufacturers, importers, or employers may withhold a chemical name, other specific identification of a chemical, or the exact percentage or concentration of the substance in a mixture from an SDS if the following conditions are met:
- The claim to withhold information as a trade secret is supported.
- Information about the properties and effects of the chemical is disclosed.
- The SDS indicates that the chemical identity and/or percentage of composition is withheld as a trade secret.
- The chemical identity and percentage of composition is made available to health professionals, employees, and designated representatives in order to protect the health of workers.
Emergency disclosure of trade secret information. If withholding trade secret information would impair OSHA’s ability to evaluate employee exposure to a harmful substance, the manufacturer or employer must provide alternative data. If a treating physician or nurse determines that the identity and/or percentage of composition of a chemical is necessary for emergency or first-aid treatment, the manufacturer or employer must immediately disclose the trade secret chemical to the physician or nurse, regardless of the need for a written statement of confidentiality agreement
Nonemergency disclosure. In nonemergency situations, the manufacturer or employer must disclose the chemical identity and/or percentage of composition to a health professional if the request is in writing and describes with reasonable detail the occupational health needs for the information (e.g., to conduct sampling of workplace exposure, design engineering or protective measures, provide treatment). The recipient of any trade secret information must agree in writing not to use it for any purpose other than the health needs asserted and agree not to release the information under any circumstances other than to OSHA or other entity authorized by the manufacturer or employer.
WRITTEN HAZARD COMMUNICATION PROGRAM
29 CFR 1910.1200(e)
The written hazard communication program is the blueprint for HazCom—and it is the first thing an OSHA compliance officer or inspector will ask to see. It does not have to be long or spell out your program in detail, but it must be well thought out, clear, and comprehensive, at least outlining all the parts of the program you are implementing. The written program should be available to all employees.
Employers must develop a written hazard communication program that describes the labels and other forms of warning in the workplace, the SDSs, and how the employee information and training requirement will be met. It must also include:
- A list of the hazardous chemicals known to be present using a product identifier that is referenced on the appropriate SDS (the list may be compiled for the workplace as a whole or for individual work areas); and
- The methods the employer will use to inform employees of the hazards of nonroutine tasks (for example, the cleaning of reactor vessels) and the hazards associated with chemicals contained in unlabeled pipes in their work areas.
Written program update requirement. By June 1, 2016, all employers must update existing written HazCom plans as necessary to reflect the new chemical label design and SDS format. The revised plan must also describe any changes to employee training requirements related to hazard classification and make chemical labels and SDSs understandable.
Access to sample written program. See Guidance Documents in this analysis for an electronic version of a sample written hazard communication program.
The written program should include the following HazCom components:
- Identifies participating personnel.
- Describes the methods the employer will use to inform employees of the hazards of nonroutine tasks (such as cleaning reactor vessels) and hazards associated with chemicals contained in unlabeled pipes in work areas.
- Criteria for labels and other forms of warning:
—Designation of person responsible for ensuring labeling of in-plant containers;
—Designation of person responsible for ensuring labeling of shipped containers;
—Description of labeling system used;
—Description of written alternatives to labeling of in-plant containers, where applicable; and
—Procedures to review and update label information, when necessary.
- Criteria for SDSs:
—Designation of persons responsible for obtaining/maintaining SDSs;
—How SDSs are to be maintained (e.g., in notebooks in the work area(s), in a pickup truck at the jobsite, via fax); procedures on how to retrieve SDSs electronically, including backup systems to be used in the event of failure of the electronic equipment; and how employees obtain access to SDSs;
—Procedures to follow when the SDS is not received at the time of the first shipment; and
—For chemical manufacturers or importers, procedures for updating the SDS when new and significant health information is found.
- Criteria for employee training:
—Designation of persons responsible for conducting training;
—Format of the program to be used (e.g., audiovisuals, classroom instruction);
—Elements of the training program—if the written program addresses how the duties outlined in the regulation for employee information and training will be met;
—Procedures to train new employees at the time of their initial assignment and to train employees when a new hazard is introduced into the workplace; and
—Procedures to train employees regarding new hazards to which they may be exposed when working on or near another employer’s worksite (e.g., hazards introduced by other employers).
- Must be readily available to employees, their designated representatives, the assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health, and the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS LIST
Employers must prepare a list of all hazardous chemicals known to be present in the workplace as part of the written hazard communication program using a product identifier that is referenced on the appropriate SDS. If an SDS is missing, the employer must get it from the manufacturer, distributor, or other source. The list will eventually serve as an inventory of every substance for which an SDS is required.
OSHA HazCom vs. the EPA Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) chemical list. The HazCom list does not meet the reporting requirements for a chemical list under EPCRA (40 CFR 370.21(b)).
29 CFR 1910.1200(e)(2)
A multiemployer worksite exists anytime employees of different employers are on the same site (e.g., a cleaning crew comes into your workplace to do its job or at a construction site). Also, any employer that hires the services of an outside contractor or vendor is responsible for ensuring compliance by the contractor with the requirements of HazCom if the contractor’s employees may be exposed to chemical hazards while working at the employer’s facility.
The outside contractor or vendor must be informed by the primary employer of the following:
- Any chemical hazards that another employer or contractor and his or her employees may encounter during their work at the employer’s facility;
- How SDSs will be made available for each hazardous chemical their employees may be exposed to while working;
- Precautionary protective measures that will need to be taken under the workplace’s normal conditions and in foreseeable emergencies, and be responsible for making sure that the contractor informs and teaches employees about the hazards of your workplace;
- Hazards known to be present, even if the hazard was preexisting, to the workplace before the workers come on-site;and
- The type of hazardous substance labeling used in the work area.
Contractor-supplied substances. Each contractor bringing chemicals on-site must provide the primary employer with the appropriate hazard information for these substances, including SDSs, labels, and precautionary measures to be taken when working with or around such substances.
This letter of interpretation clarifies HazCom requirements for employers on multiemployer worksites.
See Guidance Documents in this section for an online copy of the OSHA Directive.