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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.
March 8, 2005
Mr. Ron Sands
HSE Solutions, Inc.
124 Rodney Avenue
Walnut, Illinois 61376-9912
Dear Mr. Sands:
Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Calumet City Area Office. Your letter has been referred to the OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Program's (DEP's) Office of General Industry Enforcement for an answer to your question regarding OSHA's permit-required confined spaces standard 29 CFR 1910.146. Your scenario and question has been restated below for clarity.
Scenario: A box van of a truck carrying hazardous materials meets the definition of a confined space in that the truck van is large enough for an employee to physically enter; it has restricted means for entry or egress; and it is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. Given a release of hazardous materials within the box van, a potentially hazardous atmosphere is now added. Therefore, it would appear that the space is now permit-required under these circumstances.
Question: Would OSHA apply the permit-required confined space standard to emergency responders that must enter the van in the above scenario?
Reply: In your letter, you stated that the box van meets the definition of a confined space and given a potential hazardous materials release would be a permit-required confined space. However, OSHA would not consider the box van of a truck, as it is ordinarily used and normally configured, to be a confined space. Based on the limited information provided, OSHA is unable to determine whether your evaluation is accurate and therefore cannot determine the applicability of 29 CFR 1910.146.
In the event of a hazardous materials release from an over-the-road vehicle, OSHA would apply its Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response standard 29 CFR 1910.120 to emergency personnel responding to a hazardous materials release. We have enclosed an April 3, 1991 memorandum to Mr. James Stanley which discusses emergency response in the trucking industry which you may find useful.
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 interpretations letters explain the 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. In addition, 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