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.

January 23, 1991

The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Lieberman:

Thank you for your letter of December 10, 1990, on behalf of Mr. David Gioiello and Ms. Denese A. Deeds of the Industrial Health and Safety Consultants, Inc., regarding the application of the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response standard (29 CFR 1910.120) to general industry. Please accept our apology for the delay in this reply.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) believes that the scope and application of this standard as outlined below carries out the intent of Congress and is consistent with good occupational safety and health policy.


	Operations				Sections of 29 CFR 1910.120
Clean-up of hazardous substances.                    (b)-(o)

Licensed or interim status                           (p)
hazardous waste treatment,
storage, or disposal (TSD)facilities.
Emergency response situations                        (q)
involving hazardous substances
that occur at locations other
than hazardous waste sites and
TSD facilities.

As you can see, only section (q) of the standard applies to general industrial workplaces that have a potential for emergencies resulting from hazardous substances. Furthermore, this standard provides employers the option of using employees to respond to emergencies and meet the requirements in (q) or evacuating employees from the hazardous area when an emergency occurs and provides for the development of an emergency action plan in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.38(a).

The intent of the exception listed under 29 CFR 1910.120(a)(2)(iii) is to explain that the application of paragraph (p) of the standard is limited to TSD operations required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to have a permit or interim status. Employers who have areas of a facility used primarily for treatment, storage, or disposal but are not required to have a TSD permit or interim status have the option of complying with only sections (p)(8) or (q) of the standard for any emergency response operations at those areas. Since it does not always make sense to maintain two emergency response teams -one for the permitted area and the other for the rest of the facility (although such a practice is not precluded) - one can use a response team trained under (q) to respond throughout the whole facility.

We regret if your constituents received confusing direction on these issues. We cannot, however, consider violations de minimis unless there is no immediate relationship to employee safety or health.

We hope this information will be of help to you and your constituents. If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to call on us.


Gerard F. Scannell
Assistant Secretary