Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at

February 24, 1978

Mr. John R. Donaghy
Sandusky, Michigan 48471

Dear Mr. Donaghy:

This is in response to your letter of January 10, 1978, concerning the explosions that have been occurring in the grain elevators.

Your comments and suggestions on the recent grain elevator incidents are appreciated. All the known potential causes are being reviewed at present. We are conducting investigations of the explosions and after completion of the investigations, we will disseminate whatever information we obtain to the industry and other concerned organizations and individuals.

The majority of our field supervisory staff have a broad background in safety and health and have come into Government service from private industry. I agree with you that practical experience is an extremely important tool to a manager in dealing with the complex, day-to-day, problems in private or Government enterprises.

When the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed, OSHA was directed by Section 6(a) of the Act to adopt existing National Consensus Standards and established Federal Standards. This was to assure that the Nation's employees would be guaranteed at least a minimum level of occupational safety and health protection as soon as possible. Unfortunately, many provisions of these standards were not related to employee safety and health.

On May 19, 1977, a new "common sense" approach was announced for implementation of the Act, including a redirection of OSHA's enforcement efforts toward significant safety and health hazards. In order to implement the new "common sense" approach, OSHA Program Directive #200-67, dated December 1, 1977, (copy enclosed), was issued to clarify existing instructions regarding the proper utilization of the de minimis provisions in Section 9(a) of the Act and to ensure this authority will be utilized in all appropriate circumstances.

In addition, Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall and I announced December 3, 1977, at a news conference, a proposed revocation of over 1100 General Industry standards. A special issue of the Federal Register, dated Tuesday, December 13, 1977, has completely reprinted 29 CFR Part 1910 in which each provision proposed for revocation has been enclosed in brackets and marked by a heavy vertical bar printed to the left of the text. The preamble to the proposed revocation gives instructions for comments and other information. Under separate cover, I have forwarded a copy to you.

The review and proposed revocation of standards which have no direct or immediate relationship to safety or health will be a continuing effort to set standards that effectively achieve the goal and purpose of the Act.

Thank you again for sharing your views. If I may be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me.


Eula Bingham
Assistant Secretary
Occupational Safety and Health