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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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 6, 1993

Mr. Martin R. Kohne
Senior Safety Engineer
Donaldson Company, Inc.
1400 West 94th Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55440

Dear Mr. Kohne:

This is in response to your letter of June 25, 1992 to Mr. Charles Burin, Minneapolis Area Director for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter was forwarded through Mr. Michael G. Connors, Chicago Regional Administrator, to the Directorate of Compliance Programs for response. In your letter you requested an interpretation of the Final Rule on Process Safety Management (PSM) of Highly Hazardous Chemicals published in Volume 57, Number 26, of the Federal Register, Monday, February 24, 1992. Your questions and our responses follow. Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding.

Question 1: Are normal industrial spray painting operations using flammable paint covered by the PSM standard?

Reply: Spray painting operations involving a threshold quantity, that is, 10,000 pounds (4535 kgs), or greater amounts of flammable liquid paints are covered by the PSM standard. In order to comply with the standard you must first carefully apply the definition of "process" to facility operations and equipment in your workplace, and then proceed to determine further applicability of the PSM standard in situations where flammable liquids (and gases) are stored in tanks or containers at a worksite.

Question 2: What is intended by the terminology "on site in one location" as it applies to flammable liquid in 1910.119(a)(1)(ii)?

Reply: "Onsite in one location" is intended to cover a process or area from the standpoint of whether there could be a catastrophic release of a threshold or greater amount of flammable liquid(s) from a process or area at any one time. A building, fire division or storage room may be "one location." Storage areas would be considered separate locations when an incident involving the release of flammable liquid in one of the storage areas would not involve the release of flammable liquids stored in another area. When storage tanks are located inside storage rooms and are interconnected by piping to the spray painting operation, the process which includes these storage tanks would be covered by the PSM standard if the aggregate quantity of flammable liquids in the total system is 10,000 pounds (4535.9 kgs) or greater.

Question 3: Are 6,000 pounds of flammable paint, 3,000 pounds of flammable adhesive and 1,000 pounds of flammable maintenance materials, all located in one fire division and all liquids, covered by the PSM standard? Also, does the storage of any of these materials in storage cabinets constitute a separate location?

Reply: Whether there is a threshold quantity, that is, 10,000 pounds (4535.9 kgs), or a greater amount of flammable liquids is determined by the aggregate amount of flammable liquids in one location. Stored flammable liquids in containers, including cans, barrels and drums are exempt from coverage by the PSM standard unless they are located such that they could be involved in a potential release. In the situation described, storage cabinets are not considered separate storage areas for purposes of the PSM standard.

The state of Minnesota operates its own occupational safety and health programs under a plan approved by the U.S. Department of Labor pursuant to Section 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The Minnesota program is responsible for the protection of the working men and women in Minnesota, including the enforcement of occupational safety and health standards and the investigation of workplace complaints and accidents. To address the employment concerns addressed in your letter, you should contact your state agency at:

John Lennes, Commissioner
443 Lafayette Road
Minnesota Department of Labor
and Industry
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. If we may be of further assistance, please contact us.


Roger A. Clark, Acting Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs