29 CFR 1910.120
Interpretation to Training Guidelines calls for those who
would be typically below the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) typically on
Hazardous Wastes Sites like Visitors under escort or some surveying before
digging into contaminated areas, and some related tasks.
Once ground is broke or a release occurs beware, the key word is the
"potential for exposure"!
However, Emergency Response
has many more things to consider as listed on this page with a letter from
OSHA. The work shown above would be above the PEL and may be highly
hazardous requiring additional training for true emergencies.
LEADER THE REST WILL FOLLOW!
|November 8, 1991
Mr. Joseph Green
Occupational Health and Hygiene
Corporation of America
2777 Finley Road
Downers Grove, Illinois 60515
Dear Mr. Green:
This is in further response to your letter of September 25,
to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Your letter requested an interpretation of the Hazardous
Waste Operations Emergency Response standard (29 CFR
It is not the intent of the Agency to define an emergency
condition in terms of an arbitrary quantity of material
released due to the diversity of workplace conditions,
conditions of chemical use, and types of chemicals used.
When, as a consequence of a release of a hazardous substance
the following conditions, or similar conditions, may
develop, such situations would normally be considered
emergency situations requiring an emergency response effort:
Incidental releases that can be
handled safely by employees in the immediate area, without
the aid of a coordinated response effort from employees
outside the area, would not be considered an emergency
incident under 29 CFR 1910.120.
- High concentrations of toxic substances.
- Situation that is life or injury threatening.
- Imminent Danger to Life and Health (IDLH)
- Situation that presents an oxygen deficient
- Condition that poses a fire or explosion hazard.
- Situation that required an evacuation of the area.
- A situation that requires immediate attention
because of the danger posed to employees in the area.
Employers, who intend to evacuate employees from the danger
zone when an emergency situation occurs and who do not
expect employees to assist in handling the emergency, are
exempt from developing an emergency response plan provided
an emergency action plan is developed in accordance with 29
The intent of the standard is to protect employees from
exposure to the health and physical hazards of hazardous
substances associated with hazardous waste operations and
emergency response activities. Absent testing data on the
mixture as a whole, the hazards of a mixture containing
hazardous substances would be expected to be treated as a
hazardous substance for compliance purposes.
The determination of how much of a solvent mixture spill
(containing 10-100 ppm of benzene) would represent an
emergency, is dependent upon many factors. It is not
possible to respond to your specific question based on the
information provided. However, in general, a theoretical
concentration for each component part can be calculated
based on the quantity of solvent spilled, the percentage by
weight of volume of each component, and the size of the
spill area. In the event the components of a mixture pose an
additive effect, the TLV for the mixture can be calculated.
Dependent upon the quantity of a solvent expected to be
released and the size of the spill area, a determination
could then be made as to whether or not such a concentration
When the concentration of the mixture as a whole or the
concentration of the component parts poses a condition
previously described, an emergency situation would be
anticipated requiring an emergency response.
If you have any further questions please contact us at
Gerard F. Scannell
September 25, 1991
Mr. Gerard F. Scannell
Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20210
Dear Mr. Scannell:
The purpose of this letter is to request an interpretation
of the requirements in OSHA's regulations 29 CFR 1910.120
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response.
With regard to the definitions in these regulations, the
term "hazardous substance" is defined as follows:
"Hazardous substance" means any substance designated or
listed under paragraphs (A) through (D) of this definition,
exposure to which results or may result in adverse affects
on the health or safety of employees:
(A) Any substance defined under section 101(14) of
Further, the term "emergency response" is defined as
(B) Any biological agent and other disease-causing agent
which after release into the environment and upon
exposure, ingestion, inhalation, or assimilation into
any person, either directly from the environment or
indirectly by ingestion through food chains, will or may
reasonably be anticipated to cause death, disease,
behavioral abnormalities, cancer, genetic mutation,
physiological malfunctions (including malfunctions in
reproduction) or physical deformations in such persons
or their offspring;
(C) Any substance listed by the U.S. Department of
Transportation as hazardous materials under 49 CFR
172.101 and appendices; and
(D) Hazardous waste as herein defined.
"Emergency response" or "responding to emergencies"
means a response effort by employees from outside the
immediate release area or by other designated responders
- (i.e., mutual-aid groups, local fire departments,
etc.) to an occurrence which results, or is likely to
result in an uncontrolled release of a hazardous
substance. Responses to incidental releases of hazardous
substances where the substance can be absorbed,
neutralized, or otherwise controlled at the time of
release by employees in the immediate release area, or
by maintenance personnel are not considered to be
emergency responses within the scope of this standard.
Responses to releases of hazardous substances where
there is no potential safety or health hazard (i.e.,
fire, explosion, or chemical exposure) are not
considered to be emergency responses.
We are currently working with several private sector
industrial clients to assist them in implementing their
"Hazardous Substance Emergency Response Plans." The
following questions have been raised:
We would appreciate your review of
these questions and a written reply stating how OSHA
interprets the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.120.
- Excluding "incidental releases" as described by OSHA
in the definition of Emergency Response, are there any
criteria on the quantity or amount of a hazardous
substance that has to be involved in a release for that
incident to be considered as requiring an Emergency
As an example, for the hazardous substances defined
under section 101(14) of CERCLA, would an employer be
required to be prepared for an Emergency Response if a
release involved only "reportable quantities" of the
Or, is the employer required to be prepared for an
Emergency Response for any release, excluding
"incidental releases," of a hazardous substance which
results or may result in adverse affects on the health
or safety of employees?
- How does the definition of "hazardous substance"
apply to mixtures?
As an example, a solvent blend has as a minor component
(e.g. 10-100 ppm) a chemical (e.g., benzene) which
appears on the designated lists of hazardous substances.
How much solvent blend would have to be involved for the
release to be considered as requiring an Emergency
This type of situation could occur for numerous
chemicals, including those used as protective coatings
and for water treatment.
Your prompt response will be appreciated. Please feel free
to contact me should you need to discuss our inquiry.
Very truly yours,
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND HYGIENE CORPORATION OF AMERICA
Joseph D. Green, CIH, CSP
Industrial Hygiene Division