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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.1200

October 2, 1986

Mr. Charles M. Mullen, Jr.
Safety Engineer
Precision Twist Drill Company
301 Industrial Avenue
Crystal Lake, Illinois 60014

Dear Mr. Mullen:

This is in response to your letters of August 19 and 26 regarding the "article" definition given under the Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200. Specifically, you asked if a drill bit meets this definition.

The "article" exemption can pose difficulties for manufacturers in determining whether their products meet the definition. The key to the definition of an "article," and thus exemption, is the requirement that the manufactured item does "... not release, or otherwise result in exposure to, a hazardous chemical under normal conditions of use ..." Many items appear to meet the definition in their manufactured form, but, manufacturers must consider their products' end use before the "article" exemption may apply.

Your letter states that you have been informed that if the drill bit is used properly, with a coolant, no dusts will become airborne; and that the steel will not heat up to the 1200-degree temperature necessary to release a toxic gas. The Hazard Communication Standard requires "chemical manufacturers" to evaluate the chemicals produced in their workplace to determine if they are hazardous. If your hazard determination indicates that downstream employees will not be exposed to any hazardous chemicals contained in your drill bit, then your product would meet the definition of an article.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cannot make an across-the-board determination of a products' exclusion as an "article." The standard's definition by its very wording imposes the need to make case-by-case evaluations. Consequently, a blanket exemption for specific products cannot be given by OSHA.

In most cases, based on our experience thus for, drill bits will be considered "articles" under the Hazard Communication Standard. However, there may be, circumstances beyond our ability to anticipate that may result in exposure to employees. In these instances the article exemption would not apply.

If I can be of further assistance please feel free to contact me again.

Sincerely,



John A. Pendergrass
Assistant Secretary




August 19, 1986

Mr. John Pendergrass
Director, Occupational Safety
and Health Administration
200 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20210-0000

Dear Mr. Pendergrass:

I would like to apologize for this intrusion into your busy schedule. However I have been trying to obtain a definitive answer from Occupational Safety and Health office, both in Illinois and Washington DC, thus far with no success.

I am referring to the classification of an article under the OSHA Standard, 1910.1200, (b) (5).

The standard lists three criteria that must be met to qualify as an article:

1. A manufactured item: which is formed to a specific shape or design during manufacture,

2. which has end use function(s) dependent in whole or in part upon its shape or design during end use.

3. which does not release, or otherwise result in exposure to a hazard chemical under normal conditions of use.

Here are Precision Twist Drill we manufacture drill bits. The body of these bits are fabricated of high speed or Cobalt steels. These steels have components which, in their raw form are toxic. However in the form that we receive the steel it is considered nontoxic.

I have contacted the Occupational Safety and Health office located in North Aurora, Illinois with the question, "Is a drill bit an article, under the OSHA Standard 1910.1200"? The answer that I received was yes a drill bit would qualify. The agent that I spoke to gave me the phone number of the Chicago office of OSHA to verify his opinion.

When I called Chicago I was told that since a drill heats up during operations, it could give off toxic gas, and therefore it is exempt from the article.

When I called Chicago I was told that since a drill heats up during operation, it could give off a toxic gas, and therefore it is exempt from the article.

I asked the agent that I was speaking to if the Occupational Safety and Health Administration offices in Washington DC could speak with more authority on this subject. I was told that indeed they could.

I phoned the Washington office on Monday August 17, I spoke with an agent who, after hearing my description of a drill bit, agreed that this product would qualify as an article under the standard. The agent then transferred my call to a hygienist, for verification.

I spoke with a Mr. Simmons, and after giving him the same description of a drill bit, it was his decision that our product would not qualify as an article.

In each case the deciding factor was the possibility that a toxic gas may be given off in the course of drilling a hole.

As stated in the OSHA Instruction CPL 2-2.38, page A-3 paragraph four, it states, "The "Article" exemption raises many questions. The Key to the definition of "article", and thus the exemption, is the term "under normal conditions of use"...". Further down the page there are three products that would meet the requirements to be considered an article. They are:

Stainless steel table
Vinyl upholstery
Tires.

I have spoken to our insurance hygienist and he stated that he has never experienced high concentrations of air born particles in the air in "the normal drilling operation".

OSHA personnel seem to feel that the drill will heat up during drilling operations to a point that a hazardous material will be in the atmosphere, exposing the user to a toxic or hazardous chemical. I have been told that the bit, if used properly, with coolant, the dusts will not become airborne, and the steel will not heat up to a 1200 degree temperature the material safety data sheet states is necessary to release toxic gas.

Since it appears that whether or not we would be judged an article seems to depend on which inspector was hearing our petition for an answer, I would like to have a hard copy on file for any OSHA inspector stating a drill bit is or is not an article.

Sir, when you spoke at our American Society of Safety Engineers conference in New Orleans, you said that you came up as one of us. With that in mind please put yourself in my place. I would like to get a firm answer from OSHA, for the president of our company to the simple question, are our drill bits articles, or are they not?

Again I thank you for your time, and wish you all the best in your new position.

Cordially



Charles M. Mullen Jr.
Safety Engineer
Precision Twist Drill Company
301 Industrial Ave.
Crystal Lake, Illinois 60014




August 26, 1986

Mr. John Pendergrass
Director, Occupational Safety
and Health Administration
200 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20210-0000

Dear Mr. Pendergrass:

I sent you a letter of inquiry, dated August 19, 1986. My question was, "Is a drill bit an article under the OSHA Standard, 1910.1200 (b) (5)"? In a discussion with our company President, Mr. Art Beck, it was suggested that a drill bit should have been enclosed in the first letter to you. The enclosure would have useful is visually determining the status of a drill bit.

Therefor I am enclosing a drill bit for your consideration.

Again I thank you for your time, I do realize this is a very busy time for you, and Precision Twist Drill appreciates any time that you can give to this matter.

Cordially:



Charles M. Mullen Jr.
Precision Twist Drill Company
301 Industrial Ave.
Crystal Lake, Illinois 60014


Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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