OSHA & PHMSA Working Together

OSHA & PHMSA Issue Joint Guidance Memorandum

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a joint guidance memorandum that is intended to provide clarity on the applicability and relationship between, DOT’s labeling requirements under the HMR and OSHA’s labeling requirements for bulk shipments under the HCS 2012.

PHMSA’s hazardous materials regulations require labeling of hazardous materials in transportation, while OSHA requires labeling on containers in the workplace.

When OSHA released its Hazcom 2012 (29 CFR Part 1910.1200) revisions, Appendix C.2.3.3 stated that “If a label has a DOT transport pictogram, the corresponding HCS pictogram shall not appear.” The Hazardous Materials Regulations state “No person may offer for transportation and no carrier may transport a package bearing any marking or label which by its color, design, or shape could be confused with or conflict with a label prescribed by this part” (49 CFR Part 172.401(b)).

This raised many questions with stakeholders, and shortly thereafter, OSHA published a brief that stated that PHMSA does not view the pictograms as a conflict, and both may appear. OSHA continues on in the brief to state they intend on revising C.2.3.3, but in the meantime, they will allow both to appear. This new guidance document further confirms this position.

The Joint Guidance Memorandum can be found at https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/joint_phmsa_memo_09192016.html

ICC is your source for compliant DOT/OSHA or TDG/WHMIS labeling requirements. Contact us to find out how we can help.

OSHA Update
What is the Significance of June 1st?

What significance does June 1st have in the world of hazardous materials?

Hopefully this does not come as a surprise, but it is the deadline for the final implementation date for Hazcom 2012.

Effective Completion Date Requirements Who
December 1, 2013 Train employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format. Employers
June 1, 2015 or December 1,2015 Compliance with all modified provisions of this final rule, except:The Distributor shall not ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer unless it is a HCS Compliant label Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers
June 1, 2016 Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards. Employers

In March 2012, OSHA aligned the HCS (Hazard Communication Standard) with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This kicked off a four-year phase-in period which is now officially over.

By now, all chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers in the USA should have switched from OSHA 1994 to Hazcom 2012. This includes training all employees, classifying all products to the Hazcom 2012 criteria, creating Hazcom 2012 Safety Data Sheets (SDS), creating compliant shipped container labels, and finally updating workplace labeling and written safety programs to Hazcom 2012 standards.

Our handy checklist can help ensure that you have completed each important step. Use it as part of your internal auditing practice to ensure compliance.

If you still need help complying with the updated standard, give us a call. We can assist with consulting and training, safety data sheet and label development, and finally providing printing services to ensure those shipped container labels and workplace labels are in place.

OSHA Flammable
“Light My Fire” – Calculating Flash Points for Flammable Liquids

One of the most common tests for determining hazard classification is the flash point. This humble piece of physical information is defined in various ways in various regulations, but generally is the lowest temperature at which the vapours from a flammable liquid will ignite near the surface of the liquid, or in a test vessel. This can be critical for safety, because this temperature will be the lowest possible for the liquid to cause a flash fire if released or spilled. If the material can be handled and transported at temperatures lower than the flash point, the fire risk will be much smaller.

The flash point has become the standard test for classifying flammable liquids. It’s used by the U.S. OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Act) and HMR (Hazardous Materials Regulations) classification systems, as well as Canada’s WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) and TDG (Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations).

Obtaining a flash point on a new product is usually easy enough. Many laboratories, particularly those that deal with petrochemicals, can perform the test for a reasonable charge. If your company has too many products to make outsourcing practicable, a flash point tester itself is comparatively low cost (as scientific apparatus goes), and a trained person can obtain data quickly and efficiently. However, both of these options do cost money. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to avoid the expense?

For example, toxic materials are usually classified by a test called the LD50 (the lethal dose to 50% of test subjects). This is a more expensive, complicated test, but there’s one beautiful feature for mixtures. You don’t have to do the test if you can calculate it. This calculation basically prorates the LD50s of the ingredients based on their concentrations. While there is debate about how accurate this system is, it’s directly mentioned in the above regulations as an option if testing of the actual product has not been done.

Unfortunately, the same regulations do not directly provide us with a method for calculating a flash point. But OSHA and WHMIS are based on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling, and TDG and the HMR are based on the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. Both of these documents do include a reference to calculating flash points if directly measured ones are not available.

That’s the good news. The bad news starts when we discover that both the Globally Harmonized System and the UN Recommendations don’t give the specific formula for the calculation. The GHS reference can be found in sub-section, while the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, Manual of Tests and Criteria places the reference to a calculation in Appendix 6, paragraph 4. At least both of them refer to the same method, one reported by Gmehling and Rasmussen in the journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Fundamentals 21, 86, (1982) titled “Flash points of flammable liquid mixtures using UNIFAC”.

When we look up this article, we encounter another road block – like many scientific journals, this one is not free, and the article is behind a paywall. We have a choice; either pay up to read the full article, or see if the formula appears somewhere else.

Oh, and it helps if we know what UNIFAC is. Apparently the acronym stands for “UNIQUAC Functional-group Activity Coefficients” (making it an acronym containing an acronym), and is “a semi-empirical system for the prediction of non-electrolyte activity in non-ideal mixtures.”

A little more digging on the internet comes up with an article summarizing how to calculate various flammability measurements, published by M. Hristova and S. Tchaoushev in the Journal of the University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy, 41, 3, 2006, 291-296, titled “Calculation of Flash Points and Flammability Limits of Substances and Mixtures.” This can be accessed, with no paywall, at http://dl.uctm.edu/journal/node/j2006-3/04-Hristova-291-296.pdf .

So, we finally have our method to calculate our flash points. Except it’s nothing like the relatively simple method for calculating LD50s. Hristova and Tschaoushev tell us the calculation will take four steps:

  1. Determine the flash point which satisfies an equation relating “the actual partial pressure of component i in a vapor-air mixture” with “the partial pressure in a gas-air mixture with a composition corresponding to the LFL (lower flammable limit) of pure component i”.
  2. Determine the flammability limits at the temperature under study using the Zebatekis equation. (This equation is helpfully included.)
  3. Determine the partial pressure of each component, using the Antoine equation, and
  4. Determine the activity coefficients using the UNIFAC method.

Easy, right?

At this point, it becomes obvious that these calculations are currently of use, perhaps, to physical chemists, but are not yet a workable solution for companies simply trying to determine if their product is in Packing Group II or III. It turns out that the molecular forces in flammable liquids are far too complex to reduce to a simple equation such as can be used for toxic mixtures. Even computer systems that model these mixtures must be taken as provisional, and certainly not nearly as reliable as measured data.

So, the day when we can toss aside our flash point testers and classify flammable liquids based only on the composition is yet to come. To comply with the classification rules for workplace safety or transportation, a measured flash point is still the simplest and most accurate solution.

Do you have any questions about classifying hazardous materials? Contact ICC Compliance Center here at 888-442-9628 (U.S.) or 888-977-4834 (Canada), and ask for one of our regulatory specialists.

OSHA Labeling
Disney, Dwarfs and Workplace Labels

It was recently announced that Disney was re-releasing the classic animated movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. The commercial started with the dwarfs singing their classic song “Heigh-Ho”. In this tune, the cute characters of Dopey, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy and Doc all sing about coming home from working all day digging in the mine. To remember these characters, watch and listen here.

As the scene starts, I can’t help but notice there are no OSHA workplace labels anywhere. In the new OSHA Hazard Communications Standard 1910.1200 there isn’t much guidance on how to handle workplace labeling. The regulation states “the employer shall ensure that each container of hazardous chemicals in the workplace is labeled, tagged or marked”. The regulation goes on to say use the same information that is found on the shipped containers or use a “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.”

Many Employers may feel overwhelmed trying to figure out what to have in a workplace after reading the regulation. Let us help. We offer the GHS Workplace Labels (Orange System).

Orange System GHS Workplace Labels Available in 3 Styles


This is a symbol-based system designed to avoid language barriers. The details are easy to read and alerts workers to the hazards of the chemicals they are handling.

You’ll notice each style has the same basic format. There is a space for the name of the chemical and a way to indicate the signal word for that chemical. Doc Dwarf is happy about seeing sections dedicated to the health and physical hazards. In fact there are two distinct locations for physical hazards allowing for a more precise classification of the physical hazards of your chemical(s). The section dedicated to Personal Protective Equipment is greatly appreciated by Sneezy Dwarf. Now he can know whether or not a respirator is required when working with a given chemical.

Happy Dwarf is excited by this system for a few reasons. First of all, there are also various size options along with the choice for paper or vinyl that can be used for these labels. Also there are over 100 stock workplace labels pre-printed and ready to use. Some of these chemicals are Acetone, Gasoline, Benzene and others. For the full list of stock classified chemicals click here. This system even has an Implementation Manual, a Training Manual and posters to help get all of your employees up to speed, even Sleepy Dwarf.

When used together the simplicity of this system is enough to keep the Dwarfs Dopey and Bashful from getting into trouble.

So don’t be Grumpy Dwarf when it is time to update your workplace labeling. Let ICC The Compliance Center make it easy to do.

OSHA Carcinogen
OSHA Celebrates World Cancer Day?

We all have reminders on our calendars for such things as holidays, birthdays, and appointments. As I looked forward to February for some planning purposes, the date of February 4th popped up as World Cancer Day. Is this a day to celebrate cancer? Does that even make sense when most of us upon hearing that word have some pretty strong negative reactions and emotions? This sent me on a path of fact checking. The purpose of World Cancer Day as established by the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC) is to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. So, this day is similar to Earth Day or World AIDS Day then.

Since I work in the Regulatory World, I thought this would be an opportune time to talk about cancer in the realm of Hazard Communication. For many cancer is part of the acronym CMR which stands for materials that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction. In OSHA HazCom 2012, Appendix A Subsection 6 covers the definition, classification criteria, and cut-off values for carcinogens. Are those pieces of information really enough to classify all of your products? Granted the regulation points out in A. some factors to consider, but those exact particular factors can be hard to find in many full length cancer studies.

To make things a bit easier, OSHA has allowed for people to rely on the lists of classifications from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) or the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to help make decisions. There is also Appendix F to supply more guidance on carcinogenicity. Many of us have defaulted to the following table and its qualifying notes when classifying our products:

Approximate Equivalences Among Carcinogen Classification Schemes


Group 1 Category 1A Known
Group 2A Category 1B Reasonably Anticipated (See Note 1)
Group 2B Category 2

If, as classifiers, we do determine our product is carcinogenic, here are a few reminders.

  1. If you have a chemical in your product at a concentration that is listed on IARC and/or NTP, then those classifications must be noted on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS).
  2. If OSHA determines a chemical to be a carcinogen then that classification must also be on the SDS.
  3. For Category 2 Carcinogens present between 0.1% and 1% then all of the labeling requirements are needed on the SDS, but the Label warning is optional. If the Category 2 ingredient is present at greater than or equal to 1% then the requirements for the SDS and Label must be fulfilled.

Don’t let the reminder on my calendar or World Cancer Day pass you by without taking a look at any of your products that may contain carcinogens. Be sure they are classified correctly with appropriate language on the SDS and Label. As always, ICC Compliance Center is here to help you with all of your regulatory needs. For more information on our supplies and services visit our website:  http://www.thecompliancecenter.com.

OSHA Flammable
OSHA Tanker Labeling HazCom 2012 – “Everything Old is New Again”

Clarification provided by OSHA’s Inspection Procedure, Directive CPL 02-02-079 in July 2015, is filtering through the regulated community and causing some concern.

The directive essentially confirms that HazCom 2012 labeling applies to “… a tank truck, rail car or similar vehicle…” comprising the container for a hazardous chemical when it is not immediately unloaded at the destination.

Hazard Communication is Key

The intent is presumably to ensure that workers potentially exposed to hazardous chemicals will be able to identify the risks, particularly if they are not familiar with DOT markings – or if the substance is a hazardous chemical under OSHA, despite not being a hazardous material under DOT.

The wording of 29 CFR1910.1200(c) is light on definitions of “container” (“…storage tank or the like that contains a hazardous chemical…”); and “shipped container” in (f)(1) et al is not actually defined in the regulation itself.

However, “Shipped Container” is defined in part X.C.21 of the CPL directive, i.e. “… means any container leaving the workplace, whether through normal shipping routes or physically handed to another person.”

Consequently OSHA expects that rail or highway tankers as “shipped containers” will, in addition to 49 CFR – required safety marks, include the HazCom 2012 “… labeling information … either posted on the outside of the vehicle or attached to the accompanying shipping papers …”

Sending a copy separately from the vehicle is not allowed.

Custom Tank Labels »

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’

As long as the tanker is moving or being unloaded without storage, then the CPL directive considers DOT labeling requirements sufficient.

However, if the wheels are chocked and the cab/engine is disconnected before offloading, the tanker is considered “stored” and must have at least the equivalent of stationary process container labeling under 29 CFR1900.1200(f)(7).

As with the various versions of the title “Rollin, Rollin, Rollin” recorded (since the 1959 Frankie Laine rendition of Timken’s original for the “Rawhide” TV series, resurrected by the “Blues Brothers” in the ’80s; and repurposed by Joel Plunkett & Limp Bizkit for different lyrics in this century), the interpretation of tankers as OSHA Hazcom containers is not new.

For example, in an interpretive letter from the 1985 Hazcom era, OSHA indicated:

” … In your letter you indicated that your greatest concern is that OSHA has recently taken the position that tank trucks and tank cars are containers. Tank cars and rail cars have always been considered to be included under the definition of a container. In the Summary and Explanation of the Standard it is stated that a container is “anything that holds hazardous chemicals except pipes and piping systems” (48 FR 228, p. 53335) … “

Inspection procedures »

Theoretically hopper cars or bulk trailers of solid materials fit the same scenarios.

The subject was also included in a previous ICC Blog »

The CPL directive (PDF) »

NOTE: For those readers interested in the Canadian WHMIS 2015 requirement, Section 5.5 of the HPR (Hazardous Products Regulations) essentially exempts suppliers from the need to provide supplier WHMIS labels for “bulk shipments”. Bulk shipments include “… without intermediate containment … or packaging … a … road vehicle, railway vehicle … hold of a ship …”. Employer responsibilities are covered by workplace labeling regulations under the authority of local jurisdictions.

More Hazard Communication Issues

An inquiry was made by the American Coatings Association, which they asked OSHA to clearly outline the import of materials and the export of materials in sealed containers for the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) responded with a Letter of Interpretation (LOI) on November 23rd, 2015 which further clarified the responsibilities of US companies when importing or exporting materials that require attention under the 29 CFR 1910.1200

In regard to import OSHA’s guidance in the LOI states the responsibility falls on the importers to assure compliant labeling when the material becomes under their control. Once in their control, importers must follow the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1200(b)(4) where applicable. Importers must also assure compliance with HCS 2012 prior to shipping within the United States. In this LOI, OSHA encourages the review of their CPL-02-02-079 Section X.F.2h compliance directive which entails information for materials packaged for shipment prior to June 1st, 2015.

OSHA’s guidance for export in this LOI for sealed containers is that if prepared for direct shipment outside the US and are inside a USDOT approved shipping container, the manufacturer can label the container for the destination country. A HCS compliant label must be affixed to the outside package or be attached to the shipping papers as well. The container would also have to be labeled according the appropriate regulation for transport. In the case of said containers being stored in a manufacturer’s onsite warehouse prior to shipment overseas, then the external packaging must be labeled in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1200(f)(6) in addition to the above mentioned labeling. The requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1200 (b)(4) apply in addition to the requirements already mentioned if containers are stored off-site or in a third party warehouse prior to overseas shipment. The manufacturer must provide a safety data sheet to the third party employer.

Manufacturers that are exporting materials may find relief from the burden of attempting to label shipped containers under the US and other country’s regulations. Reminders have been given to importers that if it cannot be arranged for compliant labeling to be applied materials prior to US entry, the duty will fall upon them.

Access to this LOI, which contains the above information, was provided by the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication (SCHC).

John Mellencamp, Chemical Distributors, and OSHA

Traveling in a car to multiple places over long periods of time allows one to listen to many songs on the radio. One nicety now is satellite radio, which keeps you from dialing around trying to find a decent station that will last longer than a few miles. The channel used the most during my last trip was Channel 8 which is dedicated to the music of the 1980’s.

Now, what does my choice in radio stations have to do with chemical distributors and OSHA? The deadline for chemical distributors passed on Tuesday, December 1st. This is the deadline after which distributors are no longer allowed to ship products labeled under the old 1994 Hazard Communication Standard. They must now be labeled according to Hazard Communication Standard 2012 (HSC 2012). Given many manufacturers still have not finished their conversion, there are many distributors worried about when an OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) may be at their facility. For them the “Authority Song” by John Mellencamp may be going through their minds. Take a listen here to remind yourself of the lyrics.

Distributors take heart. There could be some relief for you. On February 9, 2015, OSHA released a memorandum on the topic of Enforcement Guidance. The memo, which can be read here, is very clear and should be read in its entirety to fully understand all of the details and finer points. In it there is a section dedicated to Distributors.

Here is that section from the memorandum:

The HCS 2012 permits distributors to continue to ship chemicals with HCS 1994 labels until December 1, 2015. 29 CFR 1910.1200(j)(2)(i). However, due to the situation described above – where a manufacturer or importer cannot comply with the June 1, 2015 effective date despite its reasonable diligence and good faith efforts – there may be distributors that are consequently unable to comply with the December 1, 2015 compliance date. In that situation, a CSHO will determine, again on a case-by-case basis, whether a distributor exercised reasonable diligence and good faith to comply with the December 1, 2015 effective date. In making such determination, a CSHO shall consider whether the distributor is able to document its communication with the manufacturer or importer about the circumstances for the noncompliance with HCS 2012. Distributors must provide HCS 2012-compliant SDSs to downstream users with the first shipment after the SDSs are provided by the manufacturer or importer. If a downstream user requests an HCS 2012-compliant SDS that is available prior to receiving a new shipment, the manufacturer, importer, or distributor must provide it immediately.

After having received HCS 2012-compliant SDSs, a distributor’s failure to provide the updated SDSs to other distributors or employers along with the first shipment or upon request would be a violation of 1910.1200(g)(7)(i), and a citation should be issued.

In the limited situation described in this memorandum, distributors will be allowed to ship chemicals permissibly labeled with HCS 1994-compliant labels until December 1, 2017.

The relief comes in if the distributors have done their homework. The CSHO is going to be looking on a case-by-case basis for “reasonable diligence and good faith” efforts on the part of the Distributor to try and meet the December 1st deadline. Part of that decision will be based on how the distributor has documented the attempts made to obtain HCS 2012 information from their manufacturers and importers. It is not clear what sort of documentation is needed. A good guide would be to review the section of the memo on “reasonable diligence” and “good faith” as applied to manufacturers and importers.

Additionally, the final paragraph mentions a December 1, 2017 deadline, but it is not clear how that will be used. My best guess would be the CSHO will be the one to decide whether or not the extension is applicable on a case-by-case basis per distributor.

So, if you have done your homework, there is no need to feel like you will be fighting authority and that authority is always winning.

As always, ICC Compliance Center is here to help with all of your hazard communication needs.

December 1, 2015 – HazCom 2012 Effective Completion Date

December 1, 2015 is an important date. You should know why by now!

Dates are important to everyone – especially during holidays when people take time off, relax, and enjoy company. December 1, 2015 is definitely an important date – to those in the hazardous materials industry – but, there won’t be any time off, relaxation, or holiday to celebrate. Rather, today is the effective completion date for compliance with all modified provisions of the Hazcom 2012 final rule: distributors shall not ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer unless it is a Hazcom 2012 label.

Sounds simple enough, right? Just put a Hazcom 2012 label on containers and you’re done. On the surface it sounds simple; however, it is anything but that. This affects chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers. If labeling is not part of the normal procedures then making sure the proper Hazcom 2012 label is used can be a daunting task.

Chemical distributors who package product (i.e., drums, totes) will need safety data sheets (SDSs) and labels updated. Otherwise, they cannot ship product as of December 1, 2015. Chemical distributors who distribute only (i.e., warehouse chemicals and distribute in the containers they came in) will need to find a way to re-label product before shipping or risk penalties if the labels are not updated. Industrial supply companies selling products such as cleaning agents, degreasers, solvents, or chemicals for industrial use will need to find a way to re-label product before shipping or risk facing citations if the labels are not updated. Re-labeling could mean opening up cases/skids of product, taking containers off, removing old labels, applying compliant GHS labels, and then packaging them up again – no small task.

There are ways that companies can get things in compliance.

Such things include:

  1. Ensuring proper label text appears on all product labels
  2. Designing artwork for new labels
  3. Ensuring SDSs are compliant to Hazcom 2012 requirements
  4. Producing labels in-house using software and printers
  5. Finding a label supplier to outsource label printing, or purchase printers and supplies
  6. Training employees, supervisors, and SDS authors to understand and apply the requirements of Hazcom 2012
  7. Referencing regulatory publications related to Hazcom 2012

Don’t be scared of this important date. There’s a lot of work involved in getting a simple label onto product containers, but in the end, the thing to celebrate is being in compliance with Hazcom 2012 and avoiding penalties. Get in touch with ICC Compliance Center at 888.442.9628 in the US, or 888.977.4834 in Canada to find out how we can help you with all your Hazcom 2012 compliance needs and more.

OSHA HazCom 2012
Time Requirements Under OSHA HazCom 2012

As a new order for classifications and label text is begun, the song “Time Is On My Side” by The Rolling Stones comes to my mind. Take a listen here to remind yourself of the rhythm and lyrics. I and many other SDS and Label authors approach each new request with optimism and the hope that a perfect world exists. Believing all of the information needed is supplied by the client, the data needed is readily available and the time needed for work is plentiful.

For any given order there could be multiple products and each product requires an SDS and Label. Each of the products is probably a mixture. In some cases the products are actually mixtures made up of other mixtures. Some of the products have trade secret claims. Taken together, this means we authors start to question what Mick Jagger is saying. Is time really on my side?

Now, clients are amazing. Any information needed requires a simple email or phone call. If they have it, then within a short period of time it is provided.

Things start to fall apart though when information just is not there. Many companies are still struggling with receiving SDS and Labels that are compliant with HazCom 2012 from their manufacturers and suppliers. When this happens, I am tasked with finding information on my own. This finding of information is the problem and can be a very time-consuming process.

In order to provide a SDS and Label that is accurate, research is needed. The problem is research is need on each ingredient of each mixture in <strong each product. Quality data is a must. As stated in other blogs finding information from just one source is not acceptable. The data should be verified. So, in reality, a single product could take several days to fully research, classify and author. When that timing is factored into an order for multiple products the time involved to complete the entire order could be weeks.

Many companies are realizing just how much they underestimated the time it would take to actually do research, classifications and authoring. In fact they are also realizing that doing it “right” does not equate to doing it fast. Let ICC’s team of experts help so no one ever has to doubt The Rolling Stones.