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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.120

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.

May 10, 1989

Mr. Andrew Szilagyi
Corporate Health and Safety Director
ICF Technology Incorporated
9300 Lee Highway
Fairfax, Virginia 22031-1207

Dear Mr. Szilagyi:

I am responding to your request of March 16, requesting clarification on 29 CFR 1910.120. I apologize for the lateness of this response. We have apparently misplaced your first letter.

The statement in the scope statement of the final rule that you have identified is intended to exempt those workplaces from coverage under the rule where the employer can demonstrate that no hazard exists. To receive this exemption the employer must be able to demonstrate to OSHA that the entire worksite does not contain operations where employees are exposed or likely to be exposed to safety and health hazards related to this rule. If there is neither a hazard nor an exposure, OSHA is considering the worksite safe with respect to 1910.120 and the need to comply with the rule is not necessary. The intent of this exemption is to provide relief to those employers conducting operations at a hazardous waste site during the initial early phase of job initiation or during the late final phase of job closure when the site poses no threat to employees.

The new tiered training requirements under paragraph (e) are intended to provide effective training to employees who work at regulated sites where the risk of exposure to safety and health hazards exists in varying degrees. In some cases, at a particular time, for a particular employee or group of employees, the exposure may not be present, however; because the risk of exposure at a later time continues to exist in the workplace, OSHA is not considering the site to be "hazard free" within the intent of the exception in paragraph (a). In this case the applicable parts of 1910.120 would apply.

With regard to your question on enforcement, it has been OSHA's policy in the past to recognize compliance with a new final rule prior to its effective date as a "good faith" compliance effort.

In the case of 29 CFR 1910.120, compliance with the new permanent final rule will be considered acceptable prior to its effective date under the "de minimis" guidelines in OSHA's Field Operations Manual.

[This document was edited on 1/6/03 to strike information that no longer reflects current OSHA policy. The Field Operations Manual has been superceded by the Field Inspection Reference Manual (FIRM). The "de minimis" guidelines are located in Chapter III, Section C.2.g of the FIRM.]

Again, I apologize for our delay and I hope that I have been able to clarify any confusion that you may have had with 1910.120.


Michael B. Moore
Fire Protection Engineer

Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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