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Durez Division of Occidental Chemical Corp. v. Occupational Safety and Health Administration

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
906 F.2d 1 (D.C. Cir. 1990)


Durez Division of Occidental Chemical Corporation (Durez) (defendant) was a chemical manufacturer that produced Durez 153, a chemical compound composed of phenol and formaldehyde. Durez’s customers were downstream manufacturers that used Durez 153 to make heat-resistant products. Employees of downstream manufacturers who handled Durez 153 were exposed to small amounts of phenol, a hazardous chemical. Pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Act), 29 U.S.C. §§ 651-78, the secretary of labor (Secretary) promulgated the Hazard Communications Standard (HCS), which required manufacturers to distribute Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to downstream manufacturers. The HCS required manufacturers to disclose on the MSDS all potential health hazards caused by the chemicals used in their products. In 1988, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (plaintiff) issued a citation to Durez on the ground that Durez had failed to disclose all potential hazards on its MSDS. Durez’s MSDS had disclosed minor risks of phenol exposure, including irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract, but did not disclose that overexposure to phenol could result in damage to the liver, kidneys, and heart. Durez contested the citation, arguing that downstream employees would not foreseeably be exposed to enough phenol to pose a realistic risk of damage to the liver, kidneys, or heart. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Administration (OSHRA) determined that Durez was required to disclose all potential health hazards of phenol, regardless of any foreseeable exposure to downstream manufacturers. Durez petitioned for review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)

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