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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

September 23, 1985

F. Hermann Rudenberg, Ph.D.
3327 Avenue Que Half
Galveston, Texas 77550

Dear Dr. Rudenberg:

This is in response to your letter of August 30, 1985, to Acting Assistant Secretary Patrick R. Tyson of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter had requested that this agency consider the possible effects on employee health that might occur if a proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that sets criteria for offshore incineration of liquid wastes were put into effect.

We appreciate your bringing this matter to our attention. However, you should be aware that authority for worker safety and health on inspected vessels (ships used for incineration are inspected vessels) is vested in the United States Coast Guard (USCG). OSHA's general authority for employee health and safety is limited by section 4(b)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the Act). That section of the Act expressly excludes OSHA's application to working conditions regulated by other federal agencies. The USCG has the statutory authority to prescribe and enforce standards or regulations affecting the occupational safety and health of seamen aboard inspected vessels and exercises that authority through application of comprehensive standards and regulations. As for your concern about employees working on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), by the provisions of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendments of 1978, the USCG was also granted the lead role in assuring health and safety for workers on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Because the Coast Guard has primary authority for safety and health in the areas for which you expressed concern, I have taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of your letter to that agency. If you need further information you should call or write:

LCDR Stephen Hughes
U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters (G-WPE-1)
Washington, D.C. 20593
(202) 755-7917

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


Frank Frodyma
Acting Director of Policy