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.

November 15, 1994

Mr. Joseph N. Brashear Brashear Bolton, Inc. 1106 Race Street Cincinnati, Ohio 45210

Dear Mr. Brashear:

This is a further response to your letter of May 23, addressed to Assistant Secretary Joseph Dear, requesting that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) modify its strict application of the standard at 29 CFR 1910.104(b)(3)(iii), which requires that bulk oxygen systems be located no closer than twenty-five feet from any structures with fire-resistive exterior walls. We regret that due to increasing requests for letters of interpretation or clarification, we were unable to respond to your inquiry in a shorter timeframe.

The program directive to which you referred (#100-61, Subject: 29 CFR 1910.104(b)(3)(iii), Oxygen; Bulk Oxygen Systems; Distance Between Systems and Exposures; Fire Resistive Structures #100-61) was redesignated on October 30, 1978, as OSHA Instruction STD 1-5.8.

The source standard for 29 CFR 1910.104(b)(3)(iii) is, as you correctly noted, the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Standard for the Installation of Bulk Oxygen Systems at Consumer Sites, No. 566-1965. This, was redesignated as NFPA No. 50, paragraph 5-1-2 in the 1971 edition, which states:

The minimum distance between any bulk oxygen storage container and fire resistive structure is not less than one foot (or other distance to permit system maintenance) from buildings other than wood frame construction, including fire resistive, heavy timber, noncombustible, and ordinary construction.

As noted above, the 1971 edition, NFPA No. 50 was changed to allow bulk oxygen systems to be located "Not less than one foot (or other distance to permit system maintenance) from buildings of other than wood construction." NFPA has determined that, in the case of fire-resistive construction, or noncombustible material, the one foot distance between any bulk oxygen storage container is adequate.

Compliance with the 1971 edition, NFPA No. 50 will constitute compliance with 29 CFR 1910.104.

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


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