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.

April 20, 1993

Mr. Christopher W. Stamas
Vice President, Sales and Marketing
International Equipment Company
300 Second Avenue
Needam Heights, MA 02194

Dear Mr. Stamas

This is in response to your letter of February 25, in which you requested an interpretation of whether the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) 29 CFR 1910.212 standards apply to laboratory centrifuges. Based on previous OSHA interpretations on the applicability of 1910.212 to centrifuges and the national consensus standards pertaining to laboratory centrifuges forwarded with your letter, you concluded that 1910.212, Machines guarding requirements, do not apply to centrifuges.

Although centrifuges are not specifically mentioned in the machine-guarding regulations and are not covered by the particular provision at 1910.212(a)(4), the general provision at 1910.212(a)(1) does cover hazards created by rotating parts or the point of operation. Accordingly, centrifuges that present such hazards must comply with the provisions of .212(a)(1), (a)(2), and (a)(3) to protect employees from associated point of operation or rotating parts hazards.

An interlock would seem to be the most effective type of guard for this situation, although under the general provision other types of guarding may be used provided they meet the requirement of being "designed and constructed [so] as to prevent the operator from having any part of his body in the danger zone during the operating cycle".

Previous OSHA interpretations were not blanket exemptions of centrifuges from any requirements of 1910.212. The letters of interpretation stated that employees must be protected from hazards created by rotating parts, the general requirement found at 1910.212.

If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact Mr. James C. Dillard, of my staff, at (202) 219-8031.


Roger A. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs