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.

August 24, 1981

Mr. Harry A. Partlow
Director, Safety
Standard Oil Company (Indiana)
200 East Randolph Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60601

Dear Mr. Partlow:

This is in response to your recent inquiry requesting an interpretation of 29 CFR 1926.401(j)(4).

29 CFR 1926.401(j)(4) requires portable electric lighting use in moist and/or other similar hazardous locations, such as tanks, to be operated at not more than 12 volts. The use of 120 volt portable lights protected with a ground-fault circuit interrupter would constitute a de minimis violation of 29 CFR 1926.401(j)(4), since equivalent protection of employees against electrocution would result. However, if the 120 volt portable lights are used in areas which are hazardous, due to flammable or combustible liquids, vapor, etc., other applicable requirements of the code must be complied with as required in 29 CFR 1926.400 and 29 CFR 1926.55 for explosive and toxic environments.

A de minimis notice, as defined in OSHA Instruction CPL 2.11A (copy enclosed), is noted for a violation of an OSHA standard where that violation has no direct or immediate relationship to safety and health. Abatement of the violation is not required and no penalties are proposed.

If we may be of further assistance, please feel free to call or write.


John K. Barto Chief,
Division of Occupational Safety Programming