OSHA -- 2006

Secretary of Labor v. Cagle's Inc.   (OSHA Review Commission)

Chemical-specific training under HazComm standard

On 4/19/00, the NAM filed a brief urging the Secretary of Labor to hold that the Hazard Communication Standard, 29 C.F.R. ยง 1910.1200, does not require chemical-specific training. At present, the standard does not require that employers tell employees the name of each hazardous chemical, the hazard it poses and the precautions it requires. OSHA has now instructed its compliance officers that employers must make employees "specifically aware" which hazard category a chemical "falls within" -- which is chemical-specific training. That is an infeasible, if not impossible, burden to carry, for many of the Nation's workplaces contain hundreds or thousands of chemicals. Chemical-specific training is also of dubious worth because, as the Secretary's rulemakers have acknowledged, employees could not reliably recall the massive amount of chemical-specific information that would be required if the interpretation here were upheld. The standard makes clear that conveying chemical-specific information is the function of the material safety data sheet and the label.

The Review Commission ruled in September, 2006 that the hazard communication standard does not require employers to provide chemical-specific training. Instead, it allows them to provide chemical-specific training, but they can also satisfy the regulation by providing training about the categories of hazards present in a workplace, and where they are. Material safety data sheets are used to identify chemical-specific hazards.


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