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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

November 7, 1994

Mr. Pete Mutschler Cenex Supply & Marketing, Inc. P.O. Box 64089 St. Paul, MN 55164-0089

Dear Mr. Mutschler:

This is in response to your July 12 letter, forwarded to us by our Denver Regional Office, requesting interpretation of the Process Safety Management Standard (PSM) of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (HHCs) standard, 29 CFR 1910.119. Your scenario and associated questions and our corresponding replies follow. Please accept our apology for the delay in responding.

Scenario: Cenex Supply & Marketing, Inc. is a farm supply dealership working in 8 states in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Ten locations handle Anhydrous Ammonia (NH3) which is sold directly to the farmers or customers. The farmers use the NH3 for fertilizer.

Question 1: Would you define retail facilities so that I

can determine whether Cenex & Marketing, Inc. work sites are covered by the PSM standard?

Reply: With respect to enforcement of the PSM Standard, retail facility means an establishment, which would otherwise be subject to the PSM standard, at which more than half of the income is obtained from direct sales to end users. Fertilizer establishments meeting this criterion would be excepted from the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.119. Please note that storage and handling of NH3 is also subject to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standard at 29 CFR 1910.111, dealing with anhydrous ammonia, and to other OSHA standards.

Question 2: Would the definition of retail facility apply to

bulk storage of petroleum products including propane, subsequently sold to farmers, home owners and industry?

Reply: Yes. Please note that compliance with the PSM standard is determined on a work site by work site basis. Also, the intent of the PSM standard is to prevent catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals, thereby providing for the safety and health of employees. Consistent with this intent, the term "establishment", when used to define retail facility, means a company name at a specific site (normally with a street address).

Question 3: Should we develop a management plan for our

employees picking up HHC products from a petroleum terminal?

Reply: The 1910.119 standard includes requirements for employer development, documentation and implementation of PSM plans for work sites subject to the PSM standard. Also, to promote safety and health in the workplace, OSHA encourages employers to develop such plans even when not specifically covered by OSHA standards. Employees picking up HHC products for transport commercially, for example, using cargo tank motor vehicles (CTMV's), are subject to Department of Transportation (DOT) Hazardous Material Regulations ( See 49 CFR Subchapter C and particularly Part 177- Carriage by Public Highway). These DOT regulations cover CTMV containment design, construction, maintenance (including repairs) and associated carriage operations. Operations regulated by DOT include cargo loading and unloading, cargo transfer hose connection and disconnection, attendance by a qualified person during loading and unloading and associated training. You may be subject to the PSM standard as a contract employer when employees perform operations which are not covered by DOT at a covered petroleum terminal.

You state in your letter that according to the Standard Industrial Classifications (SIC) Manual, these facilities are classified as 5191, wholesale distribution of farm supplies. This statement does not follow when "these facilities" are intended to mean retail facilities which are not covered by the 5191 SIC code.

We appreciate your interest in employee safety and health. If we can be of further assistance, please contact Mr. Ronald Davies of my staff, telephone 202-219-8031, extension 110.


John B. Miles, Jr., Director Directorate of Compliance Programs