OSHA Defers to DOT on Hazard Communication (Hazcom) Standards in Transportation


DOT and OSHA have issued a joint guidance memorandum clarifying each agency’s jurisdiction to impose hazcom standards.  The memorandum clarifies that DOT occupies the hazcom field during transportation, even when DOT does not require hazcom in transportation.  This is a major victory for the transportation community.
Last summer, OSHA issued enforcement guidance on implementing “globally-harmonized system” (GHS) labeling in the United States.  The guidance included a section on how GHS labels would apply in transportation, with a justification that without the GHS labels, transportation workers and the public would not know what hazards they were encountering.  This incursion on DOT’s jurisdiction was without merit and contrary to federal law.
Section 4(b)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act states that if another federal agency acts to protect the health and safety of workers that OSHA will cede jurisdiction to those agencies.  DOT has regulated hazcom in transportation since the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act was passed in 1975. 
The memorandum clarifies that if GHS labeling appears in transportation it does so only under conditions allowed by DOT. 
Click here to read the guidance memo.