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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

May 14, 1992

Mr. Ching-Yeh Shiau, Ph.D. Professor,
National Taiwan Institute of Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering
43 Keeling Road, Section 4
Taipei, 10772,
Taiwan Republic of China

Dear Mr. Shiau:

Thank you for your letter of February 29 requesting information related to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection of chemical accidents. Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970 (copy enclosed) requires each employer to furnish each of his employees, employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Each employer must also comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under the OSH Act. With reference to such safety and health standards and to industry guidelines, OSHA investigates chemical accidents which result in employee fatalities and/or multiple injuries in the workplace.

The primary purpose of these investigations is twofold. To determine the cause(s) of chemical accidents which result in exposure of employee(s) to associated safety and health hazard; and to determine whether violations of OSHA safety or health standards related to the accident occurred. Investigations of chemical accidents are conducted at two levels. The OSHA Instruction CPL 2.94 is applicable when OSHA responds to significant chemical accidents with catastrophic or potentially catastrophic consequences. Otherwise, chemical accidents are investigated by OSHA in accordance with Chapter VIII, Fatality/Catastrophe Investigations of OSHA's Field Operations Manual (FOM). Copies of CPL 2.94 and Chapter VIII of the FOM are enclosed for your use.

To eliminate or mitigate the consequences of accidents involving highly hazardous chemicals in the workplace, OSHA developed standards on Process Safety Management (PSM) of Highly Hazardous Chemicals which were published as a Final Rule in the Federal Register, Volume 57, Number 36 on Monday, February 24 this year.

The requirements in this Final Rule, a copy of which is enclosed for your use, include procedures for process safety management that will protect employees by preventing or minimizing the consequences of chemical accidents involving highly hazardous chemicals. When they become effective on May 26, these PSM standards will be referenced during OSHA investigations of chemical accidents to which CPL 2.94 is applicable and to other chemical accidents at workplaces which are subject to the PSM standards.

Hopefully, this information will be helpful with respect to the research project you are doing related to your "Chemical Accident Inspection System".


Raymond Donnelly, Director
Office of General Industry
Compliance Assistance