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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

March 31, 1978

Honorable Jack Edwards
House of Representatives
Washington, D. C. 20515

Dear Congressman Edwards:

This is in response to your transmittal of a copy of your letter of February 8, 1978, addressed to the President. I share your concern over the causes of the recent grain elevator explosions in Galveston and New Orleans.

On December 30, 1977, a meeting was held in Washington, D.C. with officials from the grain industry, U.S. Grain Inspection Service of the USDA, EPA and other knowledgeable experts in this field. After examination and discussion on the subject of conflicting Federal and State regulations, it was concluded that the various regulatory agencies were not in conflict with each other nor were any regulations a cause or contributing factor to the fires and explosions. EPA requirements call for the capture and containment of grain dust; however, there are no requirements for returning the dust to the elevator.

OSHA is presently working closely with many organizations, such as those named above, in order to gather all pertinent information on grain elevators for evaluation and appropriate dissemination to the public.

As you may know, on January 6, 1978, OSHA issued a Grain Elevator Industry Hazard Alert to the entire industry, labor organizations and to all other interested parties. It is hoped that the Alert will provide information helpful to the industry in controlling conditions known to be potential causes for fire and explosion.

If we may be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact us.


Eula Bingham
Assistant Secretary
Occupational Safety and Health