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.

July 29, 1991

Mr. John J. Sacco
Senior Industrial Hygienist
Continental Insurance
Technical Services
Pacific Regional Office
11031 Sun Center Drive
Rancho Cordova, California 95670

Dear Mr. Sacco:

Your June 19 letter requests interpretations regarding issues relating to the 29 CFR 1910.272, Grain Handling Facilities Standard. Namely, does the standard apply to bean or seed handling facilities? Also, are employers mandated to have in-house rescue capabilities, or is reliance on outside rescue acceptable?

In response to your first question, 29 CFR 1910.272 is applicable to establishments handling bulk raw agricultural commodities including unprocessed seeds (and beans) except for grain handling facilities engaged primarily in the production of crops or live stock, such as farm or feed lots. As to your second question, the 29 CFR 1910.272, Grain Handling Facilities Standard does not preclude employer use of an outside rescue team. With reference to 1910.272(g)(5), additional assistance could be provided by either an in-house or outside rescue team chosen by the employer to best suit his or her circumstances. The intent of 1910.272(g)(5) is to provide for performance of assigned rescue and emergency duties by the observer without entering the permit space. The observer must also be trained in how to obtain additional assistance, whether located at or nearby the grain handling facility. Similar requirements are contained in the proposed OSHA standard [1910.146] for an attendant of a confined space.

[This document was edited on 02/15/99 to strike information that no longer reflects current OSHA policy.]

We appreciate your interest in employee safety and health. If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs