OSHA Exemptions for Consumer Products and Articles

Certain consumer products in office settings are not applicable to the requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard as OSHA allows them to be exempted.   These exemptions eliminate the need to inventory and maintain Safety Data Sheets (SDS’), and to provide product specific hazard training for the exempt products. Some sample questions and answers of when chemical products are exempt are found below.

Office Products/Chemicals

Question:  I work in an office where we only have a few hazardous chemicals (e.g. kitchen counter top cleaner, glass cleaner, soaps, bleach, markers, etc.).  Do these products have to be listed in our chemical inventory and Safety Data Sheets kept in the red SDS Binder?

Answer: No, as long as these consumer products are used in a manner that results in an exposure of duration & frequency that is not greater than what a normal consumer would experience. But, if an employee uses the same material in a manner that would result in their exposure exceeding that of a normal consumer, the answer would then be Yes (e.g. a custodian, a commercial kitchen food service employee, etc.).

Toner Cartridges

Question:  What about toners used in my office copier or printer, are they exempt?

Answer:  If the toner is in a toner cartridge, it can be exempted as an “article”.  An article is a product which is formed to a specific shape or design during manufacture; its end use function is dependent in whole or in part upon its shape or design during its use; and which releases minute amounts of a hazardous chemical.  If it is a liquid toner that is poured into a reservoir by the user, it is not an article.  But, the liquid toner could be exempt based on the same conditions as provided in the first example question.

An example where the exemption would not apply would be employees working at a Copy Center where those employees may have a greater exposure to ink/toner cartridge-related chemicals than a normal office worker based on the frequency of handling these products for their job. The toner cartridge exemption would also not apply to employees working at a Recycling Center, where cartridges would be dismantled for recycling purposes (this would compromise the shape and design of the cartridge and release more than minute amounts of chemicals in the cartridges).