The purpose of the Hazard Communication Standard, according to 1910.1200 (a) (1) is to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are evaluated, and that information concerning their hazards is communicated to employers and employees. This transmission of information is to be accomplished by means of comprehensive hazard communication programs, which are to include container labeling and other forms of warning, material safety data sheets and employee training.

OSHA regulations require that all chemical containers have to be labeled with the identity of their contents and specific information about the hazards associated with the chemical. When a chemical is purchased, the container is considered to be primary and typically will have an appropriate label. Any container that the chemical is transferred to from the primary container is a secondary container. Both primary and secondary containers must be labeled.

According to 1910.1200(f)(7), however, the employer is not required to label portable containers into which hazardous chemicals are transferred from labeled containers, and which are intended only for the immediate use of the employee who performs the transfer. For example, drugs that are dispensed by a pharmacy to a health care provider for direct administration to a patient are exempted from labeling.

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