Occupational Firearm Use

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A question arose as to the regulation of firearms, specifically shotguns, for work use. The use in question was for busting “clinkers” in power plants, but they have also been used for scaring ducks out of evaporation ponds and for other purposes. OSHA does not have a standard that specifically addresses firearms or weapons by name, but in looking at definitions, firearms could be incorporated into other standards.

The following definition incorporates the ammunition into 1926 Subpart U – Blasting and the Use of Explosives:


“Explosives” –


Any chemical compound, mixture, or device, the primary or common purpose of which is to function by explosion; that is, with substantially instantaneous release of gas and heat, unless such compound, mixture or device is otherwise specifically classified by the U.S. Department of Transportation.


This definition creates a world of requirements for the use of ammunition in the workplace, such as:

  • Restriction of who can access ammunition
  • Having methods of accounting for ammunition
  • Specific firefighting methods in the ammunition storage area
  • Using appropriate signage

The standards also require specific qualifications for those using the ammunition, specific methods of storing of ammunition, and development of procedures for firing and misfires. Among the requirements for those using the ammunition is that they are trained unless the company can verify the user is qualified.

These requirements can all be found in 1926.900-1926.914

1910.109 also specifies the same storage requirements, in addition to specifying the design requirements for storage areas.

In addition to the explosives requirements for ammunition, there is also the issue of workplace violence. OSHA has recently been authorized to incorporate additional areas of safety, and workplace violence is one of these areas. As of yet, OSHA has nothing specific as to the allowance of firearms in the workplace, but they are pushing for eliminating all firearms from workplaces nation-wide.

In the meantime, OSHA can use their general duty clause to enforce the restriction of firearms in the workplace. Unsecured firearms pose the risk of unauthorized use. For this reason, the firearms should be secured, as is the ammunition.

The following standards from the US Department of Defense provide non-mandatory guidelines for use and storage of ammunition:

  • 5154.4S,         Ammunition & Explosives Safety Standards
  • 4145.26M,      Contractor’s Safety Manual for Ammunition, Explosives and Related      Dangerous Material

*Unless specific citations are shown, all answers are based on interpretations provided by authorized officials. As such, all information is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.