In July 2015, OSHA issued a Directive on the revised Hazard Communication Standard (“HCS”), Inspection Procedures for the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012), CPL 02-02-079. In that Directive OSHA provided guidance on the interplay between labeling under the HCS and other federal agencies, specifically the Department of Transportation (“DOT”). According to the Directive OSHA considers the DOT diamond-shaped placards that contain hazard symbols to be pictograms and therefore in compliance with the requirements of the standard.

According to DOT, the HCS pictograms are not in conflict with a DOT label. Therefore, “OSHA will allow labels to contain both DOT pictograms (labels as they are referred to by DOT) and the HCS pictograms for the same hazard.” In the future, OSHA will revise Appendix C, C.2.3.3 to reflect this change in policy.

According to OSHA, manufacturers, importers or distributors who must comply with both DOT and HCS requirements have two options: (1) use only the DOT label for the hazard (which OSHA will consider to be compliant for a pictogram) or (2) use both the DOT label and the HCS pictogram for the hazard. However, for hazards that do not require a DOT label, there must be a HCS pictogram to be compliant with the hazard communication standard requirements.

On September 19, 2016, OSHA and the DOT issued a joint memorandum addressing labeling of hazardous chemicals for bulk shipments. The memorandum clarified that “during transportation DOT’s HMR [Hazardous Materials Regulation] governs hazard communication labeling requirements” and “OSHA’s HCS 2012 labeling is not required on shipping containers in transport, even when DOT’s HMR does not require labeling in transportation.” However, labeling under OSHA’s HCS is required for hazardous chemicals “both before and after transportation.”

The memorandum makes clear that labels on bulk shipments that conform to OSHA’s HCS standard are not in violation of DOT’s HMR. “In other words, an HCS 2012-compliant OSHA label and a DOT HMR label or marking may both appear on the same package.”  If bulk packages contain labels with pictograms or symbols that are not in conformance with OSHA’s HCS requirements then such labeling is prohibited by the HMR.