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 13, 1998

Mr. Stanley G. Cothrin
Department of Safety and Hygiene
ASARCO Incorporated
3422 South 700 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84119

Dear Mr. Cothrin:

This is response to your March 1, 1997 letter request for interpretation of 29 CFR 1910.253. Please accept our apology for the delay in responding. Your questions and our replies follow.

Question 1:

Paragraph 1910.253(a)(4) requires the workmen in charge of oxygen or fuel gas supply equipment shall be instructed and judged competent by their employers before being left in charge. Does §1910.253 apply to welders in a maintenance shop or in the field conducting welding or cutting with oxygen or fuel gas welding systems?


Under paragraph 1910.252 (a)(2)(xiii)(C), cutters and welders and their supervisors must be suitably trained in the safe operation of their equipment and the safe use of the process (system). The personnel requirements under paragraph 1910.253(a)(4) are applicable to a workman (an employer puts) in charge of an oxygen-fuel gas welding or cutting system to which welders or welding operators connect and use (or use connected) equipment. The workman in charge of a system may perform as a welder and welding operator to the extent that welding or cutting does not interfere with his or her responsibilities for safe operation of the system in accordance with the rules and instructions required under paragraph 1910.253(a)(4).

This workman in charge requirement is applicable in a maintenance shop, in the field and other workplaces where a portable oxygen-fuel gas welding or cutting system is used by more than one employee or where an oxygen-fuel gas welding or cutting system is installed.

Question 2:

Under §1910.253, what does the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) accept as compliance with the competency judgement of the employer?


A workmen who is trained and demonstrates proficiency in following the rules and instructions required under paragraph 1910.253(a)(4) would be considered competent to perform the duties of a workman in charge of an oxygen-fuel gas welding or cutting system. The aforementioned rules and instructions must incorporate requirements under §1910.252 and §1910.253 of Subpart Q-Welding, Cutting and Brazing and any other employer determined safety and health requirements that are applicable to the particular workplace application.

We appreciate your interest in employee safety and health. If we can be of further assistance, please contact the Office of Safety Compliance Assistance, Mr. Ronald J. Davies or Mr. Walter Ziegfried, telephone # 202 219-8031, extensions 110 and 115 respectively.


John B. Miles, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs