- 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 https://www.osha.gov.
May 10, 2006
Mr. Bill Trammell
921 Division St.
Cresco, IA 52136
Dear Mr. Trammell:
Thank you for your October 14, 2003, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter referenced two existing OSHA letters — one addressing "general industry" (29 CFR Part 1910) provisions relating to storage of oxygen and acetylene cylinders, and one addressing construction (29 CFR Part 1926) provisions relating to storage of oxygen and acetylene cylinders. You believe that the letters contain inconsistent interpretations of the respective storage provisions. We apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiry.
With respect to OSHA's general industry standards related to oxygen and gas cylinder storage, 1910.253(b)(2)-1926.253(b)(4), cylinders in general industry workplaces are not considered to be in storage when they are either "in use" or "connected for use" (See letter to Mr. Kenneth Yotz, September 9, 1993, explaining that the interval between uses of the cylinders is not considered). However, with respect to the provisions for oxygen and gas cylinder storage in the construction industry, e.g., 1926.350(a)(10), a cylinder would be considered to be in use only when gas is being drawn or it is reasonably anticipated that gas will be drawn from the cylinder within 24 hours. Absent these conditions, compliance with the storage requirements is required (See letter to Mr. Steven Dineen, December 31, 1998).
The difference in interpretations of the respective provisions is in part attributable to the language of the respective standards. The language of 1910.253 indicates that cylinders are in "storage" if they are not in use or connected for use. See 1910.253(b)(2)(iv) and 1910.253(b)(3). There is no comparable language in the construction standard. Under the language of 1926.350, cylinders could be subject to the storage requirements even though the cylinders are connected for use. In interpreting the term "storage" in 1926.350, therefore, OHSA has focused on balancing the standard's purposes and the dynamics of a construction environment.
In general industry workplaces, oxygen and acetylene cylinders that are in use or are connected for use will not be considered to be in "storage" for purposes of the 1910.253 storage requirements.1 OSHA also will not cite a general industry employer if a single oxygen cylinder and a single acetylene cylinder are maintained with their cylinder valves closed and valve protection caps affixed. Closing the valves and affixing the valve protection caps can provide an equivalent level of protection to that achieved when the two cylinders are connected to a properly functioning regulator. This conclusion also finds support in the most recent versions of the consensus standard on which the 1910.253 standard is based. Pursuant to OSHA's de minimis policy, a citation is not justified in such situations.
Although OSHA is not changing its interpretations of the construction and general industry provisions, the agency has taken steps to harmonize the manner in which it administers the respective standards so that employers doing construction work who follow prescribed practices also will not be cited for maintaining oxygen and acetylene cylinders for periods exceeding 24-hours. See letter to Kenneth Yotz, May 8, 2006 ("Yotz II") (enclosed). Moreover, both general industry employers (as detailed above) and construction employers (under certain conditions listed in Yotz II) who close cylinder valves and place cylinder protection caps on the cylinders will not be subject to citation for violating the respective cylinder storage provisions regardless of the period of time between uses. However, it must be noted that users of oxygen-acetylene welding assemblies who comply with the above guidelines must additionally comply with all other provisions of 1910.253 or 1926.350 that are applicable to the safe use and handling of these systems (i.e., the non-storage provisions).
For your information, the State of Iowa administers its own occupational safety and health program under a plan approved and monitored by Federal OSHA. Therefore, employers in the State of Iowa must comply with State occupational safety and health requirements. As a condition of plan approval, States are required to adopt and enforce occupational safety and health standards that are at least effective as those promulgated by Federal OSHA. For the most part, Iowa standards are identical to the Federal standards, although Iowa does have some additional standards with different requirements. If you would like further information regarding Iowa's occupational safety and health requirements, you may contact the Iowa Division of Labor Services at the following address:
Mr. Dave Neil, Commissioner
Iowa Division of Labor Services
1000 E. Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0209
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
1 A welding/cutting unit that is in use or connected for use consists of a single oxygen cylinder and a single acetylene cylinder connected to a properly functioning regulator. . [ back to text ]