Guidance from OSHA and the UK HSE indicates that, for many products, it will not be possible to place a legally compliant multi-jurisdictional chemical hazard communication label or panel of labels on a chemical container. If you believe the current situation is unduly restrictive, that concern should be communicated to OSHA and the UN Subcommittee of Experts on the GHS ASAP.
A June 10, 2016, OSHA Letter of Interpretation (LOI) seems to say that inconsistent OSHA HCS and international GHS (e.g., CLP) labels would not be permitted on the immediate chemical container distributed in the US. The LOI first presents the scenario for which guidance was requested and then provides the official OSHA position/interpretation:
Scenario 4: Labeling requirements for bulk packaged hazardous (GHS & DOT) substance, packaged for distribution to clients for domestic and international distribution:
In addition to individual packaging, the manufacturer exports bulk containers (up to hundreds of pounds or gallons) of hazardous solids or liquids. Unlike individual containers with outer packaging, there is no secondary packaging of bulk containers. Appendix C of HCS 2012 does not prohibit additional information on a GHS-compliant label, and OSHA has further clarified that additional supplemental information is permitted if it does not cast doubt on the HCS-required information in OSHA's January 31, 2013 letter of interpretation addressed to Ms. Erin McVeigh.
Question 7: Would affixing a destination country's compliant label, as well as an HCS 2012-compliant label, be considered as casting doubt on the HCS label?
Response: If an internationally GHS-compliant label is included on the immediate container along with the HCS 2012-compliant label information, there must be no conflict/contradiction between the two labels. Although OSHA does not anticipate that an internationally GHS-compliant label would cast doubt on the HCS label, contradictions may arise if another country has adopted a different version of the GHS than the U.S. [emphasis added].
Question 8: Does OSHA have any guidance or comment on maintaining GHS compliance while additionally affixing labels for destination countries? [Emphasis added.]
Response: See the response to question 7.
The HSE REACH & CLP Helpdesk provided the following guidance:
From: email@example.com> On Behalf Of UKREACHCA@hse.gov.uk Sent: Tuesday, October 22, 2019 To: Halprin, Lawrence P. <Halprin@khlaw.com> Subject: CLP - Labelling - multiple labels - different classification - supplemental information
When a substance or mixture is placed on the market in the EU it has to be classified, labelled and packaged in accordance with the CLP regulation. It is permissible to include additional information on the label but this must not contradict the information required by CLP or cause confusion (refer to Article 25 of CLP). There are also specific requirements relating to the size and position of information on CLP labels. Overall, it is questionable whether the inclusion of multiple country/regional labels would meet all of these requirements.
As the CLP regulation implements the UNGHS in the EU, a label that has been prepared in accordance with the legislation implementing GHS in another country or region (e.g., the USA) might also meet the requirements of CLP in the EU (e.g., the information might be the same or it might be possible for any additional information to be considered as supplemental labelling under CLP). For this to be the case, any supplemental labelling would have to comply with Article 25(3) and (4) of CLP (i.e., provide additional information and not contradict or cast doubt on the required information). As there are some differences between the way in which CLP has implemented GHS in the EU and the way in which other countries/regions have implemented it, this may not always be possible and separate labels might be necessary. Please refer to the Q&A on the ECHA website which addresses this subject. Without seeing the full label in this case it is difficult to comment, but my initial thoughts are that including information about potential dust explosion would be acceptable supplemental information. If that’s the case, it may be possible to have one label that is acceptable in both areas (with the inclusion of relevant supplier details) and not to have two separate regional labels.
In our opinion, having two labels with conflicting information (e.g., one with a STOT classification for the USA and one without for the EU/UK) would not be consistent with the requirements of Article 25 of CLP.
One of the key points for any label is that adequate and appropriate information is made available to the supplier in a clear and consistent manner. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the supplier to determine how to classify and label the products they place on the market in the EU and they should be able to justify any decisions you take.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the GHS criteria will be implemented in the UK in exactly the same way as they are in the EU. As such, the same considerations would apply regardless of our departure from the EU.
With kind regards
REACH & CLP Helpdesk
Chemicals Regulation Division
HSE, Redgrave Court, Bootle, Merseyside L20 7HS”