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.

February 1, 2005

Mr. Ed Stone
Director of Human Resources
Signature Custom Cabinetry, Inc.
434 Springville Road
Ephrata, PA 17522

Dear Mr. Stone:

Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP) received your letter on April 29. I apologize for the delay in responding, but additional research was necessary in order to properly address your inquiry. 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 requested clarification regarding the use of residential fans in an industrial setting for personal cooling purposes. Our response to your paraphrased issues and questions are provided below.

Issue: Associates bring personal fans that are Underwriters Laboratory- (UL-) approved for home use for use as personal cooling devices in an industrial setting. During a recent OSHA inspection, a compliance officer noted that this is a violation because the fans are approved for residential use and not industrial use. Subsequently, an employee telephoned OSHA regarding the situation and was told that so long as the fans are being used for personal cooling purposes only, then they are acceptable for use in the factory. Management then placed a call to OSHA and was told that if the fans were UL-approved they would be acceptable unless the manufacturer stated that the fans are for residential use only.

Question: Is it acceptable for employees to use personal fans listed for "home use" for personal cooling purposes in an industrial setting?

Reply: Whether the use of personal fans for personal cooling purposes is acceptable in the industrial setting depends in part on how the fan is listed and labeled. 29 CFR 1910.303(b)(2) requires that listed or labeled equipment shall be used or installed in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling. The definitions for "listed" and "labeled" as stated in 29 CFR 1910.399 are as follows:

 

 

  1. Equipment is "listed" if it is of a kind mentioned in a list that (a) is published by a nationally recognized laboratory, which makes periodic inspection of the productions of such equipment, and (b) states such equipment meets nationally recognized standards or has been tested and found safe for use in a specified manner.
     
  2. Equipment is "labeled" if there is attached to it a label, symbol, or other identifying mark of a nationally recognized testing laboratory (a) which makes periodic inspections of the production of such equipment and (b) whose labeling indicates compliance with nationally recognized standards or tests to determine safe use in a specific manner.
     

In assessing compliance, OSHA would determine whether or not the fan meets the requirements of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, and would also examine how and where the fan is being used. If the fan was being used solely for personal cooling purposes and not attached to, part of, or used in conjunction with a piece of machinery or process, it would most likely be acceptable.

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.

Sincerely,


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs