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.

April 4, 2013

Mr. Donald C. Reinert
Propane Central
3610 N K15 Highway
Newton, Kansas 67114

Dear Mr. Reinert:

Thank you for your January 2, 2013, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You requested clarifications regarding 29 CFR 1910.110, OSHA's standard for the storage and handling of liquefied petroleum gases. This constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original correspondence.

Your paraphrased scenario and questions, and our replies, follow.

Scenario: An industrial company has two large industrial buildings that are not open to the public and the employer desires to store propane tanks inside each building. The employer would like to increase their stored propane capacity to more than 300 pounds by storing propane tanks at each of the large buildings. Each storage location would not exceed 300 pound propane capacity in accordance with §1910.110(f)(4)(i), which requires that "[t]he quantity of LP-Gas stored shall not exceed 300 pounds (approximately 2,550 cubic feet in vapor form) except as provided in [§1910.110(f)(5)]."

Question 1: Under §1910.110(f)(4)(i) can 300-pound, or less, quantities of liquefied petroleum gas (or LP-Gas; also, commonly known as propane) be stored at a facility if they are located in separate structures?

Response: Yes. Paragraph (f)(4)(i) of §1910.110 requires that the quantity of LP-Gas stored within buildings not frequented by the public, such as industrial buildings, must not exceed 300 pounds except as provided in §1910.110(f)(5). If specific conditions as defined under paragraph (f)(5) are satisfied, the quantity of stored LP-Gas must not exceed 10,000 pounds.

Question 2: Can more than 300 pounds of LP-Gas be stored at additional storage locations within the same building at a facility if there is a separation distance of 300 feet between storage locations, which you state is permitted by Section 8.3.3.2 of NFPA 58 - 2011?1

Response: No, § 1910.110(f)(4)(i) requires that the quantity of LP-Gas stored within buildings not frequented by the public must not exceed 300 pounds except as allowed if specific conditions as defined under §1910.110(f)(5) are satisfied, and then only if the quantity of LP-Gas stored in special buildings or rooms does not exceed 10,000 pounds.2

Regarding your comment about Section 8.3.3.2 of NFPA 58-2011, which you stated permits additional storage locations within the same building at a facility if there is a separation distance of 300 feet between storage locations, an employer might want to request a permanent variance from OSHA's standards. Where an employer (or class or group of employers3) desires to deviate from the requirements of an OSHA standard (for example, to store more than 300 pounds of LP-Gas at additional storage locations within the same building at a facility where there will be a separation distance of 300 feet between storage areas), the employer may request a permanent variance for specific workplaces. OSHA's variance program is a regulatory action that permits an employer to deviate from the requirements of an OSHA standard if the proposed alternatives for worker protection are as effective in providing worker protection as the standards from which the employer is seeking a variance. Additional requirements associated with the variance process include:

  • OSHA does not approve or endorse any commercial products or commercial designs.
  • OSHA grants variances only to specific, individual employers and not to workplaces, not to commercially manufactured products. Variances are not exemptions from a standard, and employers cannot use the variance process to obtain an exemption from a standard. Variances allow an employer to deviate from an OSHA standard under specific conditions.

For more information about how to apply for a variance, please visit our site: https://www.osha.gov/dts/otpca/variances/index.html

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA's requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our letters of interpretation do not create new or additional requirements but rather explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. From time to time, letters are affected when the Agency updates a standard, a legal decision impacts a standard, or changes in technology affect the interpretation. To assure that you are using the correct information and guidance, please consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the Directorate of Enforcement Programs at (202) 693-2100.

Sincerely,

Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs


1 NFPA 58-2011 is the latest edition of the National Fire Protection Association's Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code. It may be purchased from National Fire Protection Association, One Batterymarch Park, Quincy, Massachusetts 02169-7471.

2 Paragraph (f)(5) of § 1910.110 for storage within special buildings or rooms requires:
1910.110(f)(5)(i) The quantity of LP-Gas stored in special buildings or rooms shall not exceed 10,000 pounds.
1910.110(f)(5)(ii) The walls, floors, and ceilings of container storage rooms that are within or adjacent to other parts of the building shall be constructed of material having at least a 2-hour fire resistance rating.
1910.110(f)(5)(iii) A portion of the exterior walls or roof having an area not less than 10 percent of that of the combined area of the enclosing walls and roof shall be of explosion relieving construction.
1910.110(f)(5)(iv) Each opening from such storage rooms to other parts of the building shall be protected by a 1 1/2 hour (B) fire door listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.  Refer to 1910.7 for definition of nationally recognized testing laboratory.
1910.110(f)(5)(v) Such rooms shall have no open flames for heating or lighting.
1910.110(f)(5)(vi) Such rooms shall be adequately ventilated both top and bottom to the outside only. The openings from such vents shall be at least 5 feet away from any other opening into any building.
1910.110(f)(5)(vii) The floors of such rooms shall not be below ground level.  Any space below the floor shall be of solid fill or properly ventilated to the open air.
1910.110(f)(5)(viii) Such storage rooms shall not be located adjoining the line of property occupied by schools, churches, hospitals, athletic fields or other points of public gathering.
1910.110(f)(5)(ix) Fixed electrical equipment shall be installed in accordance with paragraph (b)(18) of this section.

3 A class or group of employers (such as members of a trade alliance or association) may apply jointly for a variance provided an authorized representative for each employer signs the application and the application identifies each employer's affected facilities.