To continue our discussion on Fire Prevention Week, which ends Saturday October 12, let's look at the validity of the NFPA's standards, are they law or guideline?  

From time-to-time we encounter a company who claims that they are under no obligation to follow the National Fire Protection Association’s Guidelines (NFPA) because it is an “association” and not a law-making body. Therefore NFPA-86 is not a law and does not apply to them.   

OSHA makes reference to the NFPA in their Code of Federal Regulations. Ignoring it may lead to charges by OSHA of a serious and/or willful violation.

The reference is in Title 29, part 1910, section 6. This states that any standards listed therein are incorporated within CFR 29 by reference. This section has a link to the updated standards that apply. NFPA-86 is one of them:

In addition, Section (q) names NFPA as a reference and paragraph (q)(20) specifically names NFPA-86.

OSHA is Internationally recognized and works with international agencies:

Here are a couple of recent examples for your reference of OSHA violations based on not following NFPA (i.e. improper ventilation, sources of ignitions and lack of interlocks):

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