Last year, we published an article on NFPA 86, the National Fire Protection Association standard that covers ovens and furnaces. This standard isn’t a law and of itself, but OSHA uses it as the basis for its own standard: CFR 1910.263 – Bakery Equipment.
Section 1910.263(9)(ii) covers oven inspections:
All safety devices on ovens shall be inspected at intervals of not less than twice a month by an especially appointed, properly instructed bakery employee, and not less than once a year by representatives of the oven manufacturers.
In several Standard Interpretation letters, written in response to questions from bakery manufacturers, OSHA has clarified these requirements. Let’s dig into the most common questions and OSHA’s responses.
Please note that this is not legal advice. For more information, contact your state OSHA office.
What is considered a “safety device”?
“Safety devices” are fail-safe devices and components of safety control systems installed to ensure that explosions or explosive conditions don’t develop within an oven. Safety devices are installed to automatically shut down the oven in a safe manner in the event of an occurrence of a hazardous condition.
Safety devices are different from “protecting devices,” which are devices that protect employees from fire and explosion hazards in the event that a safety device doesn’t eliminate the development of a hazardous condition. Explosion vents and automatic fire sprinklers are examples of protecting devices.
Does the employee performing the twice-monthly inspections have to test the safety devices or is visual inspection sufficient?
The standard does not explicitly require safety device testing. However, OSHA notes that the general provisions are performance-oriented requirements intended to ensure the devices are working properly. To do this, the employee should base their inspection program on recognized and generally accepted engineering experience, such as the OEM’s instructions and NFPA 86.
Who is authorized to perform annual oven inspections?
The standard states that at least once a year, all safety devices must be inspected by a representative of the oven manufacturer. This can be a challenge, particularly since many ovens have been installed in bakery facilities for decades and the original manufacturers may no longer exist as such.
OSHA states the inspections can be conducted by qualified representatives of any oven manufacturer who are knowledgeable of the various safety considerations and who have the training and experience to verify the safe operational characteristics of the equipment. Ideally, this is the OEM or their designated representative. But, “responsible inspection by a competitive company” is also acceptable.
In some cases, OSHA may consider a knowledgeable and experienced person who is not employed by an oven manufacturer to be qualified to inspect ovens under the policy of “de minimis” violations. “De minimis” violations are violations of OSHA standards that have no direct or immediate relationship to safety and health. They do not result in citations.