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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.1200

June 2, 1995

MEMORANDUM FOR:     LINDA R. ANKU
                   REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR

FROM:               RUTH E. McCULLY, DIRECTOR 
                   OFFICE OF HEALTH COMPLIANCE ASSISTANCE

SUBJECT:            REQUEST FOR INTERPRETATION OF HAZARD COMMUNICATION
                   STANDARD (HCS)
Thank you for you memorandum of August 23, 1994, requesting clarification of the application of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to fire extinguishers. We apologize for the long delay in our response.

In your memorandum and in follow up discussions with your staff, you referenced to a September 8, 1986 letter of interpretation that indicated that fire extinguishers were not subject to the HCS and a conflicting May 15, 1993 letter of interpretation that stated that the HCS does apply to fire extinguishers. Your memorandum requested clarification concerning which letter provided the correct interpretation.

The most recent letter (May 15, 1993) provides the correct interpretation. The HCS was modified on August 24, 1987 (52 FR 31852) to expand the coverage to all industries where employees are exposed to hazardous chemicals. The rule is fully effective and has been so since January 24, 1989. The HCS defines a hazardous chemical as any chemical which is a physical hazard or a health hazard. Under the standard, a compressed gas (defined as a gas or mixture of gases having, in a container, an absolute pressure exceeding 40 psi at 70 degrees F, or a liquid having a vapor pressure exceeding 40 psi at 100 degrees F), is considered a physical hazard and is, therefore, considered a hazardous chemical. In addition, several extinguishing agents (Halon 1211 and potential substitutes such as hydrogenated chlorofluorocarbons) are also considered hazardous chemicals by nature of their associated health hazards. Consistent with the definitions in the HCS and as discussed in the May 15, 1993 letter of interpretation, any fire extinguisher containing a hazardous chemical is subject to the requirements of the standard.

Attached for your information is a March 15 letter to Mr. Craig Trafelet of the Preventive Fire & Safety Equipment, Inc., which addresses that labeling requirements for fire extinguishers. We hope this response answers your questions regarding the applicability of the HCS to fire extinguishers. In response to your correspondence, we are directing the Directorate of Technical Support to delete the September 8, 1986 letter from the OCIS Interpretation file. If you have any further questions, please call us at (202) 219-8036.

Attachment



November 4, 1994

MEMORANDUM FOR:     LINDA R. ANKU
                   REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR

FROM:               RUTH E. McCULLY, DIRECTOR 
                   OFFICE OF HEALTH COMPLIANCE ASSISTANCE

SUBJECT:            REQUEST FOR INTERPRETATION OF HAZARD COMMUNICATION
                   STANDARD (HCS)
We have received your memorandum of August 23, regarding application of the Hazard Communication standard to fire extinguishers.

This matter requires further research. We are attempting to respond as expediently as possible, taking into consideration the need for a thorough and responsive reply.

We regret that due to increasing requests for letters of interpretation, it will take up to 90 days for us to respond to you. For an update on the status of your inquiry, please call us at (202) 219-8036.



DATE:               August 23, 1994

MEMORANDUM FOR:     H. BERRIEN ZETTLER, ACTING DIRECTOR
                   COMPLIANCE PROGRAMS

ATTENTION:          RUTH McCULLY, DIRECTOR 
                   OFFICE OF HEALTH COMPLIANCE ASSISTANCE

FROM:               LINDA R. ANKU 
                   REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR

SUBJECT:            Hazard Communication Interpretation-Fire Extinguishers
Attached are letters of interpretation concerning application of the Hazard Communication standard (HCS) to fire extinguishers.

A letter written to the National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors on September 8, 1986 states "in general, therefore, it would appear that fire suppression equipment and chemicals are not subject to the HCS." A letter written on May 15, 1993 states that the Hazard Communication standard does apply to fire extinguishers. The two referenced letters are in conflict with each other in interpreting the standard. Concern is raised since the 1993 letter is written to an individual company (BFPE International) which states that fire extinguishers are covered by the HCS while the letter written to the National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors states that the HCS does not, in general, apply to fire suppression equipment including fire extinguishers. Individual companies frequently request guidance from their association concerning compliance with OSHA standards. To date, the national association has not been informed that the 1986 guidance has been changed, assuming the 1993 letter represents OSHA's current position. It should also be noted that both letters appear on OCIS.

Clarification is requested concerning which letter is the correct interpretation. Please contact Jim Johnston of my staff (215-596-0712) if you have any questions.


Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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