Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

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

This interpretation no longer reflects current OSHA policy please refer to the update [12/23/2015] - PSM Retail Exemption Enforcement Delay Notice [1910.119(a)(2)(i)]

Note: OSHA is not implementing the July 2015 memo on the retail exemption. The Department is considering its options in light of the D.C. Circuits decision in Agricultural Retailers Association et al. v. United States Department of Labor and OSHA (D.C. Cir. Case Nos. 15-1326 and 15-1340).

October 20, 2015

PSM Retail Exemption Interim Enforcement Policy

Employer(s) with employee(s) exposed to PSM-covered processes formerly exempted under OSHA's 1992 interpretation of "retail facility" now must comply with the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.119 if the facility, or portion of the facility processing the highly hazardous chemical, does not fall into the North American Industrial Classification System definition of retail trade (NAICS 44 and 45). OSHA understands that these facilities, although currently regulated by the EPA under the Risk Management Program (RMP) regulation 40 CFR 68, must undertake some new activities to become PSM-compliant. OSHA also understands that the actions involve initiating administrative programs and undertaking hazard identification and corrective actions that may require some lead time. With these factors in mind, OSHA offers this additional guidance when inspecting facilities formerly exempted from PSM because of the 1992 retail interpretation.

On July 22, 2015, OSHA issued a revised interpretation to the PSM retail exemption at 29 CFR 1910.119(a)(2)(i). In essence, the revised interpretation states that only facilities in NAICS codes 44 and 45, the retail trade, are eligible for the retail exemption. OSHA believes that nearly all affected facilities are currently regulated by EPA as RMP program level 2 facilities. RMP 2 requires employers develop and execute a safety management system that addresses eight of the 13 OSHA PSM elements. Activities necessary to comply with PSM may be minimal, but individual employers must ensure that they have addressed all OSHA PSM elements and sub-elements.

For the first 12 months following the issuance of the Retail Exemption Memorandum on July 22, 2015, OSHA will focus its resources on providing compliance assistance to affected employers, engage key industry stakeholders, and will inform its State On-Site Consultation Projects that during this period, requests from newly covered employers should be their highest priority for receiving an on-site visit. OSHA, in consultation with regulated stakeholders, believes 12 months (as opposed to six originally proposed) is appropriate because online compliance tools were not available until mid-October and other compliance resources are limited.

OSHA will also exercise its enforcement discretion during this period and refrain from citing employers for violations of the PSM standard at facilities that it would not have cited under the former PSM retail exemption policy. The only exception to this policy will be if OSHA discovers conditions at such a facility that expose workers to an immediate and severe danger, and OSHA determines that the employer has not made a reasonable good faith effort to eliminate or substantially control the hazard. In this rare circumstance, the agency may consider enforcement action to address the immediate and severe danger. Any enforcement action in this situation must be approved by OSHA's National Office.