Agricultural exemption and turf grown at nursery
Sections 311 and 312 require facility owners or operators to submit Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and annual inventory reports (Tier I/Tier II Forms) for any hazardous chemical subject to OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR section 1910.1200) when present at a facility above threshold amounts (40 CFR section 370.10). Under Section 311(e)(5), any substance used in routine agricultural operations is exempt from Section 311/312 reporting requirements. Is the growing of turf by a nursery considered routine agricultural operations? Does this exemption apply if the turf is grown and maintained by a golf course?
The agricultural exemption found at Section 311(e)(5) excludes fertilizers held for sale by retailers and any substance which is used in routine agricultural operations. Agricultural operations is a broad term which EPA has interpreted to apply to various types of facilities, including nurseries and other horticultural operations (52 FR 38344; 38349; October 15, 1987). Therefore, chemicals used in direct support of turf growing by a nursery are exempt under Section 311(e)(5). In contrast, a golf course is not an agricultural operation. Golf courses derive their income from the playing of golf, not the sale of turf or other horticultural products. Therefore, all hazardous chemicals (e.g., pesticides, fuel for equipment) handled by the golf course must be reported under Section 311/312 if they exceed applicable thresholds.