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 http://www.osha.gov.

March 27, 1979

Mr. M. Chain Robbins
Director of Corporate
Safety and Health
Republic Steel Corporation
General Offices,
Republic Building
Personnel Department
P.O. Box 6778
Cleveland, Ohio 44101

Dear Mr. Robbins:

This is in follow-up to my letter of February 2, 1979, concerning your July 28, 1978 request for a permanent variance from the following sections of the Coke Oven Emissions Standard for your Massillon Steelmaking Facility:

1910.1029(f)(2)(i)(g) - Mechanized gooseneck and standpipe cleaners;

1910.1029(f)(4)(i) - Filtered air for operating cabs; and,

1910.1029(f)(4)(ii) - Standby pulpits - wharf.

Your application has been reevaluated and, although the rationale for the decision as presented in Mr. Concannon's letter to you dated November 22, 1978, is certainly still valid, a determination has been made concerning section 1910.1029(f)(2)(i)(g) which may clarify your situation concerning standpipe cleaning. Section 1910.1029(f)(3)(i) (a)(2) requires that standpipes be inspected prior to each charge, and cleaned to a specified minimum diameter sufficient to effectively move the evolved gases from the ovens to the collector mains. Although it would be your responsibility to determine this minimum diameter based upon the configuration of your standpipes, OSHA will generally consider that standpipes should be cleaned when 20 percent or more of the cross-sectional area of the standpipe is blocked. If this buildup does not occur, cleaning would not be necessary. Finally, if cleaning is necessary, the use of air on the pusher ram with modified air nozzles to clean standpipes has been ruled to be an acceptable type of mechanized standpipe cleaner as long as a work practice is adopted which requires the pusher machine operator to stop the pusher ram under the standpipe to be cleaned and to use the air on the pusher ram to clean the standpipe. Such a system has been developed by the National Steel Corporation.

With regard to your request for variance from the other two sections of this standard, although it does not meet the requirements for variance, it was discussed with our technical staff. It is OSHA's belief that the matter of the use of the filtered air lunchroom in lieu of a standby wharf pulpit could be clarified based upon maintaining the present size, number of personnel, and other pertinent factors of your facility. However, any clarification would absolutely necessitate the use of positive-pressure, temperature controlled filtered air for the operating cab of the larry car, as required in Section 1910.1029(f)(4)(i).

It is OSHA's decision, however, that exemption from the remaining requirements of Section 1910.1029(f)(4)(i) could not be permitted and that the proposed alternative does not afford the employer protection equivalent to that provided by the standard, as is required for a variance request. If you desire to discuss any other approach for exemption from Section 1910.1029(f)(4)(i) based upon the closing of the Missillon Facility, please contact Mr. Martonik.

I sincerely hope that this information will be of benefit to you and that all parties can arrive at an amicable solution to your problem.


R. Hays Bell, Ph.D. Director
Directorate of Technical Support