Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents|
| Standard Number:||1926 Subpart L; 1910.28; 1910.12|
February 1, 1999
Randall A. Tindell, ASP
Williams Power Company
7826 North State Hwy 95
Columbia, AL 36319
RE: The difference between maintenance and construction; scaffold inspection requirements; definition of periodicinspections
Dear Mr. Tindell:
This is in response to your letter dated March 6 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in which you asked for a written response to several questions you had discussed with OSHA. We apologize for the delay in responding.
We understand your questions to be as follows:
The difference between construction and maintenance
Question 1: There are two scaffold standards -- one for construction and one for general industry. What determines which standard applies -- the activity being performed, or the company's Standard Industrial Code (SIC)?
Answer: It is the activity to be performed while on the scaffold, not the company's standard industrial classification (SIC) code, that determines which standard applies.
Question 2: A valve is removed to install a test rig for maintenance and the valve is reinstalled when the work is completed. Is this a construction or maintenance activity?
Answer: "Maintenance" means keeping equipment or a structure in proper condition through routine, scheduled or anticipated measures without having to significantly alter the structure or equipment in the process. For equipment, this generally means keeping the equipment working properly by taking steps to prevent its failure or degradation.
In the activity you describe, a valve is removed so that a test rig can be temporarily installed to perform a maintenance activity. After the test, the rig is removed and the valve is either reinstalled or replaced with an identical valve. This would be considered a maintenance activity.
Question 3: If a valve is cut out and replaced, no matter what size it is, is this construction or maintenance?
Answer: The size of the valve is not necessarily a factor in determining whether the activity is construction or maintenance. It would be a factor if, because of its size, the process of removal and replacement involves significantly altering the equipment that the valve is in.
Example No. 1: Maintenance[Note: Additional clarification on this issue is available in the November 18, 2003 letter to Mr. Raymond V. Knobbs (Added 6/14/2004)]
Qualifications necessary to inspect scaffolds; how often is "periodic?"
Question 4: While using a scaffold for maintenance activity, is the visual inspection performed by the user, prior to use, sufficient for the periodic inspection requirements of the general industry standards.
Answer: Your question involves two issues: the required qualifications of a person who is responsible for inspecting a scaffold, and whether inspecting a scaffold prior to use meets the requirement that scaffolds be inspected periodically.
QualificationsWhether the frequency of scaffold inspection may be lowered to lessen radiation exposure
Question 5: While working in high radiation or highly contaminated areas in the nuclear industry, workers can be exposed to radiation doses while inspecting construction scaffolds before each work shift; (1) Can the inspection requirement be changed to periodic inspections? (2) Can the user-trained worker perform the inspection just prior to performing work?
Answer: When doing construction, 1926.451(f)(3) requires that a competent person inspect the scaffold and its components before each work shift and after any occurrence which could affect the structural integrity of the scaffold. If the worker will be exposed to a radiation hazard while performing the inspections required by the OSHA scaffold standard, the employer is required to protect the worker with personal protective equipment. The employer is not permitted to do fewer inspections than are required by the standard as a means of protecting the worker from the radiation hazard.
The employer may assign the task of inspecting the scaffold to a "user-trained worker" as long as that worker qualifies as a competent person under §1926.450(b). A competent person is defined as one who is "capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them."
If you require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us again by writing to: [U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210].
Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction
[Corrected 6/14/2004. Question numbers were added for reference purposes.]
Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents|