- Standard Number:
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.
July 16, 2003
Mr. Lawrence A. Gingerich, President
Proactive Environmental Inc.
24275 Potter Ridge Rd.
Creola, OH 45622
Dear Mr. Gingerich:
Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Office of the Assistant Secretary. The Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP) received your letter on February 7. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question or scenario not delineated within your original correspondence. You had several questions regarding workplace use of electrical equipment designated as "Household Use Only" and recordkeeping requirements. Our responses to your paraphrased issues and questions are provided below.
Issue: Regarding 1910.303(a) (Approval) and 1910.303(b)(2) (Installation and Use), I understand that electrical devices must be approved by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory (NRTL). Subpart S of 29 CFR Part 1910 authorizes OSHA to approve NRTLs and their listing. It is also my understanding that this section (specifically 1910.7) infers acceptance for use of anything that has a NRTL approval, as long as that equipment is used in a manner consistent with its designated function as required by 1910.303(b)(2), namely that it is "used or installed in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling."
Question 1: Where is "... used or installed in accordance with," described? Is it in the NRTL listing requirements, on the label, or in the owner's manual?
Reply: Such instructions may be found in any of the sources you mentioned — either the NRTL or the manufacturer of the equipment.
To obtain product labeling or listing by a particular NRTL, it will usually be necessary for the manufacturer to comply with the applicable testing standard of that NRTL. For example, the standard used by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for investigating commercial cooking appliances, including coffee makers, is UL 197. The UL standard for household coffee makers is UL 1082. Section 50 of UL 1082 sets forth several requirements for cautionary markings on the appliance and for the provision of instructions. In addition, Section 52 requires that an instruction manual or the equivalent be provided with the appliance that includes the safety instructions listed in Section 53 ("All Appliances") and the appropriate text from Section 54 ("Special Appliances"). Section 55 requires both that the instruction manual include appropriate instructions and caution statements regarding cleaning and maintenance and that instructions for mounting an under-cabinet or wall-mounted appliance be provided. In other words, many or all of the cautionary markings on or instructions provided with a UL-approved coffee maker will be the use and installation "instructions" that employers must comply with pursuant to §1910.303(b).
Question 2: Where or how is "Household Use" defined? Is this an appropriate designated function?
Reply: 29 CFR 1910, Subpart S — Electrical, does not define "Household Use" or "For Household Use Only." A NRTL, however, may use that terminology. For example, as stated above, UL 1082 requires that coffee makers intended for household type usage be marked "Household Use Only," "Household Type," or the like. The UL standard does not define "household," and we are not aware of any published definition by UL of the term "household use." According to Underwriters Laboratory, in distinguishing household use from commercial use it would consider factors such as, but not limited to: (1) level of anticipated daily use; (2) knowledge of the users; and (3) the care and cleaning of the machine.
Question 3: Is it acceptable for employees to use a UL-listed coffeemaker or other small appliance labeled as "Household Use Only" in an office or small break-room?
Reply: The employer must ensure that all electrical equipment used by employees meets or exceeds OSHA standards. Whether an employer's use of UL-listed coffee makers and other small appliances labeled "For Household Use Only" is allowed under the "instructions included in the listing or labeling" depends on an evaluation of the relevant factors, such as those mentioned in the answer to the preceding question. Like Underwriters Laboratories, OSHA recognizes that the use of small appliances in offices or break rooms may be comparable to their use in a household and thus would not be expected to present a higher level of hazard.
For additional guidance on UL-approved appliances used in an office or similar location(s), please contact:
Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.
333 Pfingsten Road
Northbrook, IL 60062-2096
Phone: (847) 272-8800
Issue: Regarding 1910.304(f)(5)(v)(5) [sic] (Cord and plug connected appliances), I understand that such appliances with exposed non-current carrying metal parts that may become energized must be grounded if used in damp or wet locations or by employees standing on the ground or on metal floors or working inside of metal tanks or boilers.
Question 4: Although the employees are not standing on metal floors, what if the walls or partitions of an office, conference room, or cubicle are conductive? Must electrical devices with exposed metal parts be grounded under these conditions?
Reply: The actual subsection is §1910.304(f)(5)(v)(C)(5), which does not apply to the office workplace setting you describe (employees working in cubicles inside an office or conference room). However, it is always good practice to use grounded appliances wherever electrical hazards may be present. If such a workplace hazard is serious and recognized, the employer may be obligated by Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act to prevent or correct the hazard.
Question 5: If an employee is using an ungrounded "Household Use Only" coffee pot for personal use and is electrocuted, would it be a recordable injury (death) according to 1904.5(b)(2)(iv)?
Reply: The injury (death) would not meet the exception found in §1904.5(b)(2)(iv) for "injury or illness [that] is solely the result of an employee eating, drinking, or preparing food or drink for personal consumption ..." As stated in the Preamble to the Recordkeeping Rule (66 Federal Register, 5951, Jan. 19, 2001), "... if the employee was injured by a trip or fall hazard present in the employer's lunchroom, the case would be considered work-related." Similarly, if an employee is injured by an electrical hazard present in the work environment, the injury would be considered work-related, and the electrocution example as stated above would be considered recordable.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs