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.

January 29, 2004

Mr. Dennis Vance
Dennis Vance, LLC
711 Low Gap Road
Princeton, WV 24740

Re: 29 CFR 1926.152(a), (f), and (g); §1926.155(a) and (l); and STD 3-4.1A

Dear Mr. Vance:

This is in response to your letter dated July 31, 2003, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You ask about the requirements for storage and handling of gasoline on a construction site under 29 CFR 1926.152. Your letter was forwarded to this office for handling on August 20, 2003. We apologize for the delay in responding.

Question 1: May gasoline be dispensed from a five-gallon Underwriters' Laboratories approved safety can into the fuel tank of a tool such as a target saw, weed-eater, or 5-kw generator during a construction job?


The general requirements for the handling and use of flammable and combustible liquids such as a gasoline are set forth in 29 CFR 1926.152(a):

(1) Only approved containers and portable tanks shall be used for storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. Approved safety cans or Department of Transportation approved containers shall be used for the handling and use of flammable liquids in quantities of 5 gallons or less...[Emphasis added.]

29 CFR 1926.155(l) defines a safety can as:

an approved closed container, of not more than 5 gallons capacity, having a flash arresting screen, spring-closing lid and spout cover and so designed that it will safely relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure. [Emphasis added.]

29 CFR 1926.155(a) defines "approved" as:

(a) Approved, for the purpose of this subpart, means equipment that has been listed or approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as Factory Mutual Engineering Corp., or Underwriters' Laboratories, Inc., or Federal agencies such as Bureau of Mines or U.S. Coast Guard, which issue approvals for such equipment. [Emphasis added.]

In the background to OSHA Instruction STD 3-4.1A (De Minimis for Absence of a Flame Arrestor Screen in a Safety Can), OSHA noted that while most safety cans approved by listed agencies or organizations have flame-arrestor screens in safety can spouts, Underwriters' Laboratories, Inc. does not require them for approval of safety cans. Instruction STD 3-4.1A provided:

A. Purpose. This instruction establishes that the absence of a flame arrestor screen in the pouring or spout of a safety can is treated as de minimis.

When handling or using flammable or combustible liquids, the use of an Underwriters' Laboratories, Inc. safety can without a flame-arrestor screen is treated as a de minimis violation.1

Question 2: Section 1926.152(e)(Dispensing liquids) sets forth the requirements for the dispensing and transferring of flammable or combustible liquids. Does the §1926.152(e)(2) requirement that the containers be electrically bonded apply when using a safety can containing less than 5 gallons of gasoline to refuel a tool used on a construction site?


No. Section 1926.152(e)(2) states:

Transfer of flammable liquids from one container to another shall be done only when containers are electrically interconnected (bonded).



Section 1926.152(e)(2) applies to the transfer of fuel from one storage container to another storage container - not to transfers for purposes of end use (i.e., refueling). The requirements for refueling are set forth in §1926.152(f) (Handling liquids at point of final use) and (g) (Service and refueling areas).


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction



1Under OSHA's de minimis policy, de minimis violations are those that have no direct or immediate relationship to safety or health. Consequently, no citation is issued. [back to text]