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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.144; 1910.144(a)(3); 1910.219; 1910.219(p)(1); 1910.219(p)(2); 1910.219(p)(3); 1910.219(p)(4); 1910.219(p)(5); 1910.219(p)(6); 1910.219(p)(7)

August 19, 2003

John F. Podojil
Lovegreen Risk Management
2280 Sibley Court
Eagan, MN 55122

Dear Mr. Podojil:

Thank you for your July 2, 2002 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. 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. You had specific questions regarding 29 CFR 1910.144 and the color-coding of machines and machine guards in accordance with ANSI Z535.1-1990. I apologize for the delay in providing this response. Your paraphrased inquiries and our responses follow.

Question #1: Does your agency cite employers (every time) for not having a machine properly color-coded when they conduct a survey of a machine? If not, could you give me an example of when a citation may be issued on this subject?

Response: No, the Agency does not cite employers every time for not color-coding a machine or parts of a machine. Under 29 CFR 1910.144, there are specific color-coding requirements for items such as safety cans or other portable containers of flammable liquids and for devices such as emergency stop buttons, switches, and bars, but beyond that, the standard does not specify what machines or portions of machines need to be color-coded. The standard specifies that yellow is to be used to identify physical hazards such as striking against, stumbling, falling, and "caught in-between." The idea behind color-coding is to make the employee aware of potentially hazardous conditions. During an inspection, if a hazard is present that is related to color-coding or the lack thereof, then OSHA could issue a citation for a violation of 1910.144. A situation of where a citation might be issued for lack of color-coding is a machine guard that, while protecting an employee from one hazard, exposes that employee to another hazard, such as a trip hazard or an overhead "struck-by" hazard. Each circumstance needs to be evaluated individually to determine the appropriateness of color-coding. It must be emphasized that color-coding in no way eliminates the need for adequate guarding of the piece of equipment. Physical hazards created by operating machinery must be addressed by compliance with Subpart O of 29 CFR 1910, Machinery and Machine Guarding.

Question #2: What parts of a machine need to be color-coded? For example, ANSI states, "the outside of guards covering belts, pulleys, rims of pulleys or filler plates on band saws, etc."

Response: Neither 29 CFR 1910.144, nor ANSI Z535.1-1998 specifies which machine parts require color-coding. If there is a portion of a machine that creates a particular hazard and the use of color-coding will enhance employee safety, then that part or hazard shall be color-coded in compliance with 29 CFR 1910.144. The employer has the responsibility to evaluate the machine and determine if any portion needs to be color-coded. It should be made clear that the ANSI standard is a guideline. OSHA has, in 1910.144, a standard for color-coding, and this is what the Agency will enforce.

Question #3: Does the entire guard or just a small portion need to be color-coded? For example, would a small strip of yellow or yellow and black stripe tape installed on the leading edge of the guard work or a piece of orange tape applied to the inside cover of the guard meet the intent of the standard?

Response: 29 CFR 1910.144(a)(3) states that yellow shall be the color for marking physical hazards, but it does not specify where and how much of a machine or physical hazard needs to be marked. Being a performance-oriented standard, this is left to the discretion of the employer to determine first, the necessity of color-coding, and second, the optimum location and extent of the markings. To reiterate what the standard says, "yellow is used to identify physical hazards." If the guard of a machine does not present a physical hazard such as, but not limited to, tripping, falling, struck by, or caught-between, then there would be no need for color-coding.

Question #4: How many citations has Federal OSHA issued in the last five years for machinery not being color-coded?

Response: The provisions under 29 CFR 1910.144, in addition to the use of the color yellow, include the requirements for the color identification of safety cans and emergency stop devices, such as bars, buttons and switches. During the time period from October 1, 1998 through June 8, 2003, paragraphs under 29 CFR 1910.144 were cited 24 times.

Question #5: ANSI requires that the rims of pulleys be color-coded orange. Do your inspectors check for these colors and do they cite the employer if it is not painted or color-coded? If so, how many citations have been issued in the last five years for this hazard?

Response: ANSI does not require that the rims of pulleys be color-coded orange. As mentioned earlier, ANSI Z535.1-1998, Safety Color Code, states at paragraph 6.2 that, "if a color is to be used to identify the hazardous parts of machines, Safety Orange shall be used" [emphasis added]. The ANSI standard, in Section 6.2.1, gives examples of applications where the color Safety Orange may be used, such as, "marking exposed parts (edges only) of pulley, gears, rollers, cutting devices, power jaws, etc." OSHA's color-coding standard, 29 CFR 1910.144 does not address the use of the color orange. OSHA has not issued any citations in the last five years related to painting the rims of pulleys Safety Orange. Once again, the ANSI standard is a guideline. OSHA has a color-coding standard, 1910.144, and will use that when considering the issuance of citations.

Question #6: According to 29 CFR 1910.219(p)(1), machinery is required to have preventative maintenance every 60 days. Exactly what is your agency looking for in this type of inspection and does the inspection have to be documented? If documentation is required, how long does an employer have to keep these records on file?

Response: 29 CFR 1910.219(p)(1) is the general requirement to perform preventative maintenance on power-transmission equipment. Specific maintenance requirements for different types of power-transmission apparatus such as shafting, bearings, hangers, pulleys, and belts follow in paragraphs (p)(2) through (p)(7). The standard does not require written documentation of preventative maintenance, but an employer must be able to demonstrate, in some manner, that the preventative maintenance is being performed at the required interval. Finally, it should be noted that the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.219 apply only to power transmission apparatus.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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

As you may know, the State of Minnesota administers its own occupational safety and health program, with approval and monitoring by federal OSHA. States that administer their own OSH plans must promulgate regulations that are "at least as effective" as the federal regulations, although they may be more stringent. As a result, Minnesota may have safety and health laws that are more restrictive than the federal laws. For more information specific to the State of Minnesota, you may contact the Minnesota

Department of Labor and Industry at:
Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
443 Lafayette Road North
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155-4307
(651) 284-5050
(651) 282-5405 FAX
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs

Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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