Today's News / Facility Safety / Government Regulations

How does OSHA’s hazard communication standard apply to combustible dust?

OSHAThe following are two “letters of interpretation” from OSHA officials answering questions from the field regarding how OSHA’s newly revised hazard communication standard applies to combustible dust.

March 25, 2013
Jonathan L. Snare
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
1111 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

Re: Request for Interpretation of OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard for Combustible Dust

Dear Mr. Snare:

This is in response to your inquiry on behalf of the American Chemistry Council concerning how OSHA's March 26, 2012, revisions to its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012) apply to combustible dust. Below I summarize each of your questions and provide our response to it.

1. Hazard Statement.Under HCS 2012, chemicals that have been classified as combustible dusts must include the following hazard statement on their labels and safety data sheets (SDSs): "May form combustible dust concentrations in air."

You ask whether, for chemicals that pose a combustible dust hazard when processed but not in the current shipped form, the responsible party may include additional language with the hazard statement. You propose two alternatives (indicated by italics):

a. If converted to small particles during further processing, handling, or by other means, may form combustible dust concentrations in air.

b. If small particles are generated during further processing, handling or by other means, may form combustible dust concentrations in air.

OSHA RESPONSE: Paragraph C.3.1 of Appendix C to HCS 2012 states that the responsible party may provide additional information on a label "when it provides further detail and does not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the standardized hazard information."

OSHA views either of the alternatives you propose as falling within C.3.1 because they provide additional detail and do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the required hazard statement where the chemical does not present a combustible dust hazard in the form shipped.

Similarly, the required elements listed in Appendix D for SDSs are the minimum information required and OSHA believes that additional information that satisfies C.3.1 may be included in Section 2 of the SDS if the additional information concerns hazard identification.

Therefore, it would be acceptable to OSHA if responsible parties included either alternative in conjunction with the required hazard statement on labels and SDSs for such chemicals.

2. Safety Data Sheets. Your two questions on SDSs also pertain to chemicals that are not a combustible dust in the form shipped but that may present a combustible dust hazard under normal conditions of use due to the way they are processed by a downstream user.

a. You ask whether SDSs may include additional information and explanatory statements, and provided us with a hypothetical SDS containing such information. In general, OSHA does not offer letters of interpretation passing on the adequacy of particular SDSs because OSHA does not possess the manufacturers' knowledge about the hazards and use of the product.

OSHA is not making a determination on the adequacy of the hypothetical SDS you provided, however, there are a few general issues presented that OSHA can provide an interpretation on.

In Section 2 (Hazard Identification) of the SDS, you propose listing:

 OSHA Hazard Category: Combustible Dust";

ii. "GHS Hazard Categories: Not classified";

iii. "OSHA label elements," including the fact that there is no pictogram, a signal word of "Warning," the hazard statement for combustible dust with the additional language noted above in 1.b., and certain precautionary statements about the combustible dust hazard;

iv. Information about any hazards not otherwise classified presented by the product; and

v. HMIS and NFPA ratings for the product.

OSHA RESPONSE: For purposes of this response, OSHA assumes that the SDS is for a chemical that poses a combustible dust hazard arising from downstream processing, but not in the shipped form, and that it presents no other HCS-covered hazards. In such cases, OSHA views the language in items (i) and (ii) above as being consistent with the requirements of Section 2(a) of Appendix D of HCS 2012.

For item (iii), it is consistent with Section 2(b) of Appendix D to note that there is no pictogram" and to use the same additional language that appears on the label in conjunction with the required hazard warning language. The signal word "Warning" is also required. OSHA has no required precautionary statements for combustible dust, and therefore none are required in Section 2 of the SDS. Responsible parties may add their own precautionary statements to Section 2 so long as they are relevant and do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the other information in the SDS.

The information referenced in item (iv) is required by Section 2(c) of Appendix D. On item (v), responsible parties may include HMIS and NFPA ratings in Section 2 of the SDS as long as they do not contradict or cast doubt on the HCS 2012 classification.

b. Appendix C.4.30, footnote 2, states that where chemicals are not shipped in a dust form but may be processed under normal conditions of use by a downstream user in such a way as to create a combustible dust hazard, the responsible party may provide labels in accordance with 1910.1200(f)(4). That provision allows labels to be provided once to downstream users, either with the initial shipment or with the SDS for the chemical. You ask whether it would be acceptable to provide the (f)(4) label by printing it at the top of the first page of the SDS.

OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, where (f)(4) applies, it is acceptable to provide the label by printing it at the top of the first page of the SDS. Note that the (f)(4) partial labeling exemption is available only for chemicals that present no HCS 2012-covered hazard in the form shipped. If a chemical presents an HCS 2012-covered hazard in the form shipped, for example a health hazard, the (f)(4) exemption would not apply even if the chemical presents a combustible dust hazard only after processing in the normal conditions of use.

3. Labels on shipped containers. You have several questions concerning the labeling of chemicals presenting a combustible dust hazard.

a. You ask whether it is acceptable for a shipped container containing a chemical that presents a combustible dust hazard to include an HMIS label in addition to the information required by 1910.1200(f)(1) and C.4.30.

OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, so long as the ratings in the HMIS label do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of label information required by HCS 2012 (C.3.1) or impede the user's ability to identify the information required by HCS 2012 (C.3.2).

b. You also ask whether, when (f)(4) applies, the shipped container may bear a label containing only product identifiers, manufacturer name and address, and an emergency phone number.In addition, you ask whether, in addition to the information contained in the previous sentence, the container may also bear an HMIS label.

OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, where (f)(4) applies and the HCS 2012 label has already been provided by other means, either of these alternatives are acceptable. In fact, OSHA encourages responsible parties to provide product identifier and contact information on each shipped product whenever they take advantage of the (f)(4) option. However, any information that appears may not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the label information required by HCS 2012.

c. Finally, you ask whether, under footnote 2 to C.4.30, the (f)(4) partial labeling exemption is available for a liquid that under normal conditions of use may turn into a solid form that presents a combustible dust hazard.

OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, assuming the liquid in its shipped form presents no other hazards that would be classified under HCS 2012. As discussed in 2.b, if the liquid presents any other hazards, then (f)(4) would not apply. Again, OSHA encourages responsible parties to provide the product identifier and contact information on each such product.

4. Workplace labels. This issue concerns the workplace labeling requirements under 1910.1200(f)(6) in situations where a chemical is not a combustible dust in the form shipped, but may become one when processed by a downstream user. Y

Your first question is whether, when the responsible party provides the label in accordance with (f)(4), the downstream user must label any containers containing the chemical in the workplace.

Second, you ask if whether, once the product is processed in a way to create the combustible dust hazard, the employer may warn of the hazard by labeling the area (consistent with 1910.1200(f)(7)) where the processing of the materials generates sufficient dust to present a combustible dust hazard in lieu of affixing an (f)(1) label to each container.

Finally, if the materials are not in a "container," as defined in 1910.1200(c), but the processing of the materials (e.g., the sawing of PVC pipes or lumber) is such that it may create a potential combustible dust hazard, you ask whether the employer may warn of the hazard by labeling the work areas (consistent with 1910.1200(f)(7)) where the processing of the materials takes place in lieu of affixing an (f)(6) label on each piece of piping or lumber.

OSHA RESPONSE: This response assumes the only HCS 2012-covered hazard presented by the chemical is that related to combustible dust.

On your first question, the workplace labeling requirement would begin only once the chemical is brought into the work area where it will be processed in a way to create the combustible dust hazard.

On your second question, 1910.1200(f)(7) states that for stationary process containers, the employer may use signs or placards "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 the label."

Thus, for stationary process containers, so long as the signs or placards used in your scenario are easily visible to the employees in the work area, convey the information required by (f)(6), and identify the containers to which they are applicable, the employer's workplace labeling obligation for the chemical would be satisfied. Other containers must bear the information specified in (f)(6). At a minimum, (f)(6) requires the product identifier and words, pictures and/or symbols that provide general information of the hazard, and in conjunction with other information immediately available to the employees, provides employees with the specific information about the combustible dust hazard.

Finally, the workplace labeling requirements in (f)(6) apply only to chemicals that are in containers. Thus, individual boards or pipes that might create a combustible dust hazard when cut do not need to be labeled under (f)(6). It is permissible (and OSHA encourages) the use of signs or placards to advise workers of the hazard in such circumstances, but signs and placards are not required.

Of course, the employer has other responsibilities under HCS 2012 for these products as well, including training, maintaining SDSs, and providing SDSs to employees in an easily accessible manner.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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.

Sincerely,

David Michaels, Ph.D, MPH
Assistant Secretary of Labor for
Occupational Safety and Health


March 4, 2014

Erik C. Baptist
Counsel
American Petroleum Institute
1220 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

Re:Request for Interpretation of Application of OSHA's Amended Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012) to Combustible Dust

Dear Mr. Baptist:

This letter is being issued to API to clarify how the March 26, 2012, revisions to OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012) apply to combustible dust. Below I summarize each of your questions and provide our response to it.

1. Modification of Required Hazard Statement. Under HCS 2012, chemicals that have been classified as combustible dusts must include the following hazard statement on their labels and safety data sheets (SDSs): "May form combustible dust concentrations in air."

You ask whether, for chemicals that pose a combustible dust hazard when processed but not in the current shipped form, the responsible party1may include additional language with the hazard statement. You propose two alternatives (indicated by italics):

a. If converted to small particles during further processing, handling, or by other means, may form combustible dust concentrations in air.

b. If small particles are generated during further processing, handling or by other means, may form combustible dust concentrations in air.

OSHA RESPONSE: Paragraph C.3.1 of Appendix C to HCS 2012 states that the responsible party may provide additional information on a label "when it provides further detail and does not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the standardized hazard information."

OSHA views either of the alternatives you propose as falling within C.3.1 because they provide additional detail and do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the required hazard statement where the chemical does not present a combustible dust hazard in the form shipped.

Similarly, the required elements listed in Appendix D for SDSs are the minimum information required and OSHA believes that additional information that satisfies C.3.1 may be included in Section 2 of the SDS if the additional information concerns hazard identification. Therefore, it would be acceptable to OSHA if responsible parties included either alternative in conjunction with the required hazard statement on labels and SDSs for such chemicals.

2. Safety Data Sheets.

a. Your first question concerns a chemical that is not a combustible dust in the form shipped, and does not present any other hazard under HCS 2012 in the form shipped, and will not present a combustible dust hazard or any other hazards under HCS 2012 in normal conditions of use or foreseeable emergencies unless they are processed by a downstream user in such a manner which reduces its particle size. You ask whether, for such a chemical, the responsible party may include the following additional language at the beginning of the SDS:

This product is not hazardous in the form in which it is shipped by the manufacturer, but may become hazardous through downstream activities (e.g. grinding, pulverizing) that reduce its particle size. Those hazards are described below.

OSHA RESPONSE: Yes. These types of additional statements may be added to the SDS so long as they are relevant and do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the classification or other information in the SDS.

b. You ask whether Section 2 of the SDS for a chemical posing a combustible dust hazard may include precautionary statements about the combustible dust hazard although none are specified by Appendix C of HCS 2012.

OSHA RESPONSE: Yes. OSHA has no required precautionary statements for combustible dust, and therefore none is required in Section 2 of the SDS. Responsible parties may add their own precautionary statements to Section 2 so long as they are relevant and do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the other information in the SDS.

c. You ask whether Section 2 of the SDS for a chemical posing a combustible dust hazard may include Hazard Management Information System (HMIS) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) ratings.

OSHA RESPONSE: Yes. Responsible parties may include HMIS and NFPA ratings in Section 2 of the SDS as long as they do not contradict or cast doubt on the HCS 2012 classification.

3. Labels on shipped containers

a. You ask whether it is acceptable for a shipped container containing a chemical that presents a combustible dust hazard to include an HMIS label in addition to the information required by 1910.1200(f)(1) and C.4.30.

OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, so long as the ratings in the HMIS label do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of label information required by HCS 2012 (C.3.1) or impede the user's ability to identify the information required by HCS 2012 (C.3.2).

b. Appendix C.4.30, footnote 2, states that where chemicals are not shipped in a dust form but may be processed under normal conditions of use by a downstream user in such a way as to create a combustible dust hazard, the responsible party may provide labels in accordance with Section 1910.1200(f)(4). That provision allows labels to be provided once to downstream users, either with the initial shipment or with the SDS for the chemical.

You ask whether, when Section 1910.1200(f)(4) applies, the shipped container may bear a label containing only product identifiers, manufacturer name and address, and an emergency phone number.

OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, where Section 1910.1200 (f)(4) applies and the HCS 2012 label has already been provided by other means, it is acceptable to provide only this information on a shipped container. In fact, OSHA encourages responsible parties to provide product identifier and contact information on each shipped product whenever they take advantage of the Section 1910.1200 (f)(4) option. However, any information that appears may not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of the label information required by HCS 2012.

c. Finally, you ask whether, under footnote 2 to C.4.30, the Section 1910.1200 (f)(4) partial labeling exemption is available for a liquid that under normal conditions of use may (by evaporation or other process) turn into a solid form that presents a combustible dust hazard.

OSHA RESPONSE: Yes, assuming the liquid in its shipped form presents no other hazards that would be classified under HCS 2012. If the liquid presents any other hazards, then (f)(4) would not apply. Again, OSHA encourages responsible parties to provide the product identifier and contact information on each such product.

4. Workplace labels. This issue concerns the workplace labeling requirements under Section 1910.1200(f)(6) in situations where a chemical is not a combustible dust in the form shipped, but may become one when processed by a downstream user.

Your first question is whether, when the responsible party provides the label in accordance with Section 1910.1200 (f)(4), the downstream user must label any containers containing the chemical in the workplace.

Second, you ask that we clarify the labeling obligations of the downstream user once the product is processed in a way to create the combustible dust hazard.

OSHA RESPONSE:

(1) The one-time label rule of Section 1910.1200(f)(4) applies when the product is a solid metal, solid wood, solid plastic or whole grain, and is not limited to chemicals whose only downstream hazard is the combustible dust hazard. In addition, under footnote 2 to C.4.30, the Section 1910.1200 (f)(4) exemption is also available to other products, including liquids, that present only a combustible dust hazard under normal conditions of use and foreseeable emergencies, but not in the form shipped (as discussed in section 3.c of this letter above).

(2) In situations where a chemical is not a combustible dust in the form shipped, but may become one when processed or handled by a downstream user, and the responsible shipper-party provides the one-time container label in accordance with Section 1910.1200(f)(4), the downstream user's obligation to label any workplace containers of that chemical are determined as follows:

(a) If the chemical will not be processed or handled in a way that creates a combustible dust hazard or any other hazard that would be classified under HCS 2012, there is no Section 1910.1200(f)(6) labeling requirement.

(b) If the chemical will first be placed in a stationary process container (e.g., grinder) where it will be processed in a way that creates a combustible dust hazard, the downstream user would be required to label the stationary process container with the Section 1910.1200(f)(6) label, or may comply with the alternative labeling methods provided by Section 1910.1200(f)(7), and need not label the shipping container.

(c) If the chemical will first be placed in a non-stationary process container where it will be processed in a way that creates a combustible dust hazard, the downstream user would be required to label the non-stationary process container with the Section 1910.1200(f)(6) label, but not the shipping container.

(d) If the chemical will be processed or handled in a way that creates a combustible dust hazard before it is placed in a process container, the chemical would be subject to the Section 1910.1200(f)(6) labeling requirement once the chemical is brought into the work area where it will be processed in a way to create the combustible dust hazard. If the chemical is not in a container when brought into the area where it will be processed, no Section 1910.1200(f)(6) labeling would be required prior to processing.

(e) Finally, the workplace labeling requirements in Section 1910.1200(f)(6) apply only to chemicals that are in containers2. Thus, individual boards or pipes that might create a combustible dust hazard when cut do not need to be labeled under Section 1910.1200 (f)(6). It is permissible (and OSHA encourages) the use of signs or placards to advise workers of the hazard in such circumstances, but signs and placards are not required.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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 superseded by changes to OSHA rules, including but not limited to future revisions to the Hazard Communication Standard and the adoption of a standard concerning combustible dust.

Sincerely,

David Michaels, Ph.D, MPH

Assistant Secretary of Labor for
Occupational Safety and Health

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

ASSE Safety 2014 Review

A gallery of photos from the sprawling Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, where ASSE’s annual professional development conference was held June 8-11. All photos courtesy of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

9/30/14 2:00 pm EST

Leveraging Sustainability Initiatives to Benefit Your Community and Increase Compliance

This webinar will review how General Motors' Sustainability initiatives are being leveraged to improve the community and the environment, create efficient energy programs, improve sustainability tracking, impact on processes and overall reporting and improve overall social, environmental and corporate sustainability.

ISHN Magazine

ISHN SEPTEMBER 2014 COVER

2014 September

ISHN'S September issue features a series of essay on thought leadership. Get expert advice on self-motivation, compliance and more!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE ISHN STORE

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - SEPTEMBER 2014

ISHN FDO SEPTEMBER 2014For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THE SEPTEMBER 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.