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 http://www.osha.gov.

May 15, 1993

Mr. John L. Dowell III
BFPE International
7512 Connelley Drive
Hanover, MD 21076

Dear Mr. Dowell:

Thank you for your letter of February 11, requesting interpretation of the labeling requirement specified in the Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1919.1200(f)) as it pertains to fire extinguishers. Your three questions are answered below in the order they were presented in the letter.

Question No. 1: Does Subpart Z apply to fire extinguishers?

Response: Subpart Z of the Hazard Communication Standard does apply to fire extinguishers. In terms of labeling requirements under the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), only those fire extinguishers that contain hazardous chemicals are required to be labeled. A compressed gas is defined as a physical hazard in the HCS. Therefore, those fire extinguishers containing compressed gas are required to be labeled under the HCS.

Question No. 2: If Subpart Z does not apply, is OSHA contemplating any regulations which will?

Response: Another OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.157, Portable Fire Extinguishers, applies to the placement, use, maintenance, and testing of portable fire extinguishers provided for employee use. This standard specifies requirements such as, hydrostatic testing of fire extinguisher shells and training and education on use and hazards associated with incipient stage fire fighting. A copy of that standard is enclosed for your reference.

Question No. 3: Is OSHA in any way involved in the issue of the HMIS system as applied to fire extinguishers.

Response: As stated in the response to Question No. 2, OSHA has jurisdiction over fire extinguishers for employee use. Consequently, during compliance inspections fire extinguishers are evaluated against the applicable standards. In terms of HMIS labeling system, the agency does not require the HMIS for fire extinguishers or any other container. OSHA has stated in its directive of the Hazard Communication Standard (CPL 2-2.38 C) that:

"The standard's preamble recognizes the existence of numerous labeling systems that are currently in use in industry. Examples include the HMIS (Hazardous Materials Information System), NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) and ANSI (American National Standards Institute) systems. Some of these systems rely on a numerical and/or alphabetic codes to convey the hazards. Although these labeling systems may not convey the target organ effects, the intent of the standard is to permit the use of these systems for implant labeling as long as the written Hazard Communication Program adequately addresses the issue."

We hope this information will be of assistance to you, and if you have any additional questions please contact the Office of Health Compliance Assistance (202) 219-8036.


Roger A. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs


February 11, 1993

Mr. Roger Clark
Director of Compliance Program
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Room N-3469
Washington, DC 20210

Dear Mr. Clark:

Within the fire suppression industry, there appears to be some confusion on HMIS requirements for fire extinguishers.

The National Fire Protection Association 1990 Pamphlet 10, Section 1-7, requires content identification under the HMIS system for extinguishers manufactured after July 1, 1991.

More recently, we were made aware of the attached customer memo which indicates that OSHA requires labels on all extinguishers.

The referenced Subpart Z appears to have been taken from CFR-29 1910.1200(f). Our interpretation is that this section applies to process containers in a manufacturing setting and not to fire extinguishers.

Not wishing to rely on our interpretation, we would greatly appreciate it if you would state OSHA's position on the following:

1. Does Subpart Z apply to fire extinguishers? 2. If Subpart Z does not apply, is OSHA contemplating any regulations which will? 3. Is OSHA in any way involved in the issue of the HMIS system as applied to fire extinguishers.

The answers to the above questions will enable us to be in proper compliance as well as competitively price our service.

Very truly yours,


John L. Dowell III





It's The Law for Everyone!

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard affects ALL businesses that produce, use, store or distribute ANY hazardous substance.

The Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS) is a TOTAL Right-to-Know compliance system. It includes the contents product name as it appears on the manufacturer's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). It's easy to use and easy for your employees to understand. When used properly, it will help you fulfill the requirements of OSHA'S Hazard Communication Standard and various state Right-to-Know regulations.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listed fire extinguishers manufactured after July 1, 1991 include the HMIS information on the label.

Fireline Corporation, in order to help keep you in compliance with this law, will be attaching the correct HMIS label on your fire extinguishers that were manufactured prior to July 1, 1991 for a nominal fee of $1.10 each.



(f) Labels and other forms of warning

(4) Except as provided in paragraphs (f)(5) and (f)(6) the employer shall ensure that each container of hazardous chemicals in the workplace is labeled, tagged or marked with the following information:

(i) Identity of the hazardous chemical(s) contained therein; and

(ii) Appropriate hazard warnings

(5) The employee may use signs, placards, process sheets, batch tickets, operating procedures, or other such written materials in lieu of affixing labels to individual stationary process containers as long as the alternative method identifies the containers to which it is applicable and conveys the information required by paragraph (f)(4) of this section to be on a label. The written materials shall be readily accessible to the employees in their work area throughout each work shift.

(6) The employer is not required to label portable containers into which hazardous chemicals are transferred from labeled containers and which are intended only for the immediate use of the employee who performs the transfer.

4605 Hollins Ferry Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland 21227
(410) 247-1422