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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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 30, 1995

Mr. Larry R. Durio
Durio Consulting Services
8762 Quarters Lake Road
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70809

Dear Mr. Durio:

This letter is in response to your request for an interpretation on the exemption afforded under the benzene standard (29 CFR 1910.1028) for oil and gas drilling, production, and servicing operations. As you have correctly interpreted, these operations are exempt under the benzene standard. OSHA based the rationale for this exemption on data submitted that showed that it would be unlikely that any worker would be exposed at such a site with higher benzene levels in the crude oil for long periods of time. Based upon the evidence presented with the proposed benzene standard OSHA concluded that the average worker exposures would be well below the action level.

Please be aware that at some of these operations when the crude oil is pumped into storage containers, specific operations have been set up where the crude oil is first passed through a heater/separator-treater tank. OSHA regards this type of processing as being part of the manufacturing or processing operation and not part of the bulk storage and transfer process nor part of the oil well production operation. Under such circumstance, the benzene standard would be applicable until monitoring data collected from at least two data points at least seven days apart showed exposures below the benzene action level.

If you have and further questions, please contact Richard Fairfax of my staff at (202) 219-8036.


John B. Miles. Jr.
Directorate of Compliance Programs

October 4, 1995

Mr. Richard E. Fairfax, CIH
Office of Health Compliance Assistance
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
F-P Building, Room N3467
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Mr. Fairfax:

Following is the text of my written request of 09/13/95 to Mr. Limitiaco in Carson City concerning the exemption from the benzene standard that you and I have discussed.

"As we have discussed, questions have arisen about the applicability of an exemption to the benzene standard to a certain operation. The exemption is 29 CFR 1910.1028(a)(2)(vi), which states `This section does not apply to: ... Oil and gas drilling, production and servicing operations.' A copy of the pertinent section of the standard is transmitted following this narrative.

"The operation in question involves employees who go to production site (leases with producing wells) crude oil and natural gas condensate storage tanks; gauge the tanks; test the crude or condensate for water and solids (BS&W in oilfield parlance), temperature and specific gravity; and pump the crude or condensate into a tanker truck and haul it to a collection terminal. The employees who do this work for _______ Service Inc., which is the oilfield service division of a vertically integrated oil company.

"The tanks being serviced are relatively small (400 barrel typical capacity), located at production sites and often at the wellheads themselves, and are the only repositories for crude or condensate for the well or (a small number of) wells at the site. If the tanks are not frequently and regularly serviced (at least every few days), the well or wells must be taken out of production for lack of a repository for their output. The tasks performed are essentially those of a gauger and pumper, which are established oilfield production job titles and which jobs are often combined in contemporary practice. As reflected in the company name, and as the task performed are understood in the oilfield community, _______ Service Inc. is an oil and gas service company.

"As the companies involved, you, Del Krehbiel and I interpret the standard, there is no question the exemption applies. The only question is whether the operation is production, servicing, or both, but that is basically an issue of curiosity rather than substance since the exemption applies in either case. Nonetheless, the exemption has been called into question by a private party advancing a personal agenda. Accordingly, any clarification and verification of the applicability of the exemption you can provide would be greatly appreciated."

Recognizing the review process involved, anything you can do to provide a written response in time for a meeting on October 10, 1995 would be most helpful. Since Mr. Gill already obtained approvals for his verbal concurrence, the review process may be easier than normal. Please contact me if additional information is required.

Very truly yours,

Laurence R. Durio
Certified Industrial Hygienist

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.