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• Standard Number: 1910.106; 1910.106(d)(2); 1910.106(d)(2)(iii)(a) ; 1910.106(d)(2)(iii)(a)(2)


July 7, 2003

Ms. Susanne M. Herald
Babst, Calland, Clements, and Zomnir
Two Gateway Center
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Dear Ms. Herald:

Thank you for your February 14 letter requesting an interpretation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Flammable and Combustible Liquids code at 29 CFR 1910.106 and its relationship to the current National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 30 - 2000 edition. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondence. Our responses to your scenarios and paraphrased questions are provided below. We apologize for the delay in responding.

Scenario: Table H-12 in §1910.106(d)(2) and Table 4.2.3 in NFPA 30 - 2000 specify maximum allowable sizes for various types of containers for Class IA and Class IB liquids. Glass containers are limited in size to no more than 1 pint for Class IA and 1 quart for Class IB. Section 1910.106(d)(2)(iii) allows for a glass or plastic container of up to one-gallon capacity to be used for a Class IA or Class IB flammable liquid if:
(a)(1) Such liquid either would be rendered unfit for its intended use by contact with metal or would excessively corrode a metal container so as to create a leakage hazard; and

(2) The user's process either would require more than 1 pint of a Class IA liquid or more than 1 quart of a Class IB liquid of a single assay lot to be used at one time, or would require the maintenance of an analytical standard liquid of a quality which is not met by the specified standards of liquids available, and the quantity of the analytical standard liquid required to be used in any one control process exceeds one-sixteenth the capacity of the containers allowed under Table H-12 for the class of the liquid;
Section 4.2.3.2 of NFPA 30 (2000 edition) permits certain Class IA and Class IB flammable liquids to be stored in a glass container of not more than one gallon or 3.8 liters "if the required liquid purity (such as American Chemical Society analytical reagent grade or higher) would be affected by storage in metal containers or if the liquid can cause excessive corrosion of the metal container." The NFPA exception is thus similar to the first part of the 1910.106(d)(2)(iii) exception. The NFPA exception does not, however, include the additional limitations set out in 1910.106(d)(2)(iii)(a)(2).

Question: Does OSHA, under its policy regarding de minimis violations, allow a laboratory or warehouse storing various reagent grade chemicals that are Class IA or Class IB flammable liquids in glass containers exceeding the allowable capacities listed in Table H-12 to rely on the exception in Section 4.2.3.2 of NFPA 30 (2000 edition)?

Reply: Compliance with the requirements of current applicable industry consensus standards such as those contained in Section 4.2.3.2 of NFPA 30 (2000 edition) is regarded as a "de minimis" departure from the OSHA requirements, if the consensus standards provide for equal or greater personnel protection than corresponding OSHA standards. De minimis violations exist when an employer complies with the clear intent of the standard but deviates from its particular requirements in a manner that has no direct or immediate impact on the safety and health of workers. Therefore, under this policy, if an employer stores various reagent grade chemicals that are Class IA or Class IB flammable liquids in glass containers of up to one gallon in size as prescribed in Section 4.2.3.2 of NFPA 30 (2000 edition), in lieu of the sizes of glass containers prescribed in Table H-12 of §1910.106, this would be considered a de minimis violation of OSHA's requirements. OSHA does not issue citations for de minimis violations, and abatement is not required.

Scenario: The same reagent grade flammable liquids (stated above) are often supplied in standard metric-sized glass containers with a capacity of four-liters rather than in a container with a comparable U.S. volumetric capacity of one-gallon. One-gallon is equivalent to approximately 3.8 liters, so the four-liter glass containers slightly exceed the maximum size allowed by the exemptions in §1910.106(d)(2)(iii)(a) and Section 4.2.3.2 of NFPA 30.

Question: Does OSHA consider this slight volumetric difference in the size of common laboratory glass containers for reagent chemicals to constitute a de minimis violation of §1910.106(d)(2) for which no citation would be issued?

Reply: The use of four-liter containers rather than a container with a U.S. one-gallon (which is approximately 3.8 liters) volumetric capacity for storage of reagent grade flammable liquids would likely have no direct impact on the safety and health of workers, therefore, such usage would also be considered as a de minimis violation of §1910.106(d)(2) for which no citation(s) would be issued.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. 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. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.

Sincerely,

Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs



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