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.

August 11, 1994


                       REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR

FROM:                   JOHN B. MILES, JR., DIRECTOR 

SUBJECT:                Request for Interpretation - 1910.146 (c)(1)
                       Initial Evaluation of the Workplace

This is in response to your memorandum of February 1, in which you requested clarification as to which of two different interpretations of the confined spaces standard is correct. We regret the delay in responding to you.

The first interpretation proposed in your memorandum is correct. The intent of the standard is for all employers in General Industry to evaluate their workplaces to determine if they contain any permit-required confined spaces (PRCS).

Since each inspection is different, rigid compliance guidance can not be provided; however, the following citation strategy for the PRCS standard paragraph (c)(1) (requiring employers to initially evaluate their workplaces) is provided.

Where there is a place of employment which has not been initially evaluated, and there is:

Minimal Potential with No Exposure - A facility which has the potential for confined spaces, but has no hazards and does not have employee exposure would be considered to be in de minimis violation. No citation should be issued.

Potential - Employers who have confined spaces, and have the potential for employee(s) to be in the spaces but do not have a hazard characteristic found in the definition of PRCS may be cited for a low-gravity, non-serious violation of the standard.

If you have further questions on this subject please contact Don Kallstrom (202) 219-8031 extension 109.