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 https://www.osha.gov.

September 12, 1980

Mr. Theodore C. Miloch
Staff Attorney
Office of the General Counsel
Ford Motor Company
Dearborn, Michigan 48121

Dear Mr. Miloch:

In a meeting held on May 2, 1980, representatives of your company met with OSHA representatives to discuss OSHA's classification of assembled auto air bag inflation modules. This letter provides the clarification that your company requested.

The subject modules contain an igniter, booster, and a pelletized mixture of sodium azide and copper oxide, iron oxide, or some other material that when set off, forms a nitrogen gas that inflates the air bag. The Department of Transportation (DOT) gave Ford exemptions for the modules from being a Class B explosive to that of a flammable solid. The Treasury Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, also does not classify the modules as explosives. Section 1910.109(a)(3) defines an explosive as:

"...any chemical compound, mixture, or device, the primary or common purpose of which is to function by explosion, i.e., with substantially instantaneous release of gas and heat, unless such compound, mixture, or device is otherwise specifically classified by the U.S. Department of Transportation; see 49 CFR Chapter I..."

Since DOT has otherwise specifically classified the modules as being flammable solids and not Class B explosives, Section 1910.109 will not be applied to these exempted air bag inflation modules, provided the provisions of the DOT exemption are met.

A copy of this letter will be forwarded to all OSHA Regional Office's. If we may be of further assistance, please call or write.


Bruce Hillenbrand
Acting Director,
Federal Compliance and State Programs