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OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200: Hazard Communication

Ranking: #5

The Risks

Manufacturing, construction, mining, warehousing, welding, transportation, and oil and gas are among the industries in which hazardous chemicals are routinely used. Exposure to toxic substances can cause both short-term health emergencies and long-term illnesses, including severe burns and inflammation, respiratory difficulties and cancer. In order to ensure worker safety, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable to workers. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires the development and dissemination of such information.

Major Provisions of the Standard

  • 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.
  • Chemical manufacturers, importers, or employers evaluating chemicals shall follow the procedures described in Appendices A and B to Sec. 1910.1200 to classify the hazards of the chemicals, including determinations regarding when mixtures of the classified chemicals are covered by this section.
  • When classifying mixtures they produce or import, chemical manufacturers and importers of mixtures may rely on the information pro-
    ​vided on the current safety data sheets of the individual ingredients, except where the chemical manufacturer or importer knows, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should know, that the safety data sheet misstates or omits information required by this section.
  • Employers shall develop, implement, and maintain at each workplace, a written hazard communication program which at least describes how the criteria specified in paragraphs (f), (g), and (h) of this section for labels and other forms of warning, safety data sheets, and employee information and training will be met, and which also includes the following:
  • A list of the hazardous chemicals known to be present using a product identifier that is referenced on the appropriate safety data sheet (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 non-routine tasks (for example, the cleaning of reactor vessels), and the hazards associated with chemicals contained in unlabeled pipes in their work areas.
  • Employers who produce, use, or store hazardous chemicals at a workplace in such a way that the employees of other employer(s) may be exposed (for example, employees of a construction contractor working on-site) shall additionally ensure that the hazard communication programs developed and implemented under this paragraph (e) include the following:
  • The methods the employer will use to provide the other employer(s) on-site access to safety data sheets for each hazardous chemical the other employer(s)’ employees may be exposed to while working;
  • The methods the employer will use to inform the other employer(s) of any precautionary measures that need to be taken to protect employees during the workplace’s normal operating conditions and in foreseeable emergencies; and,
  • The methods the employer will use to inform the other employer(s) of the labeling system used in the workplace.
  • The employer may rely on an existing hazard communication program to comply with these requirements, provided that it meets the criteria established in this paragraph (e).
  • The employer shall make the written hazard communication program available, upon request, to employees, their designated representatives, the Assistant Secretary and the Director, in accordance with the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1020 (e).
  • Where employees must travel between workplaces during a work shift, i.e., their work is carried out at more than one geographical location, the written hazard communication program may be kept at the primary workplace facility.
  • The chemical manufacturer, importer or distributor shall ensure that each container of hazardous chemicals leaving the workplace is labeled, tagged or marked. Hazards not otherwise classified do not have to be addressed on the container. Where the chemical manufacturer or importer is required to label, tag or mark the following information shall be provided:
  • Signal word
  • Hazard statement(s)
  • Pictogram(s)
  • Precautionary statement(s)
  • Name, address and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer or other responsible party.
  • Product identifier and words, pictures, symbols or combination thereof, which provide at least general information regarding the hazards of the chemicals, and which, in conjunction with the other information immediately available to employees under the hazard communication program, will provide employees with the specific information regarding the physical and health hazards of the hazardous chemical.
  • The employer may use signs, placards, process sheets, batch tickets, operating procedures or other such written materials in lieu of affixing labels to individual stationary process containers, as long as the alternative method identifies the containers to which it is applicable and conveys the information required by paragraph (f)(6) of this section to be on a label. The employer shall ensure the written materials are readily accessible to the employees in their work area throughout each work shift.

Compliance Resources

Smaller employers will find OSHA’s publication, HAZARD COMMUNICATION: Small Entity Compliance Guide for Employers That Use Hazardous Chemicals useful. You can find it at: WMHS


800-832-8379 •


800-262-8200 •


1-888-326-9244 •

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