May 24, 2011
Mr. Matt Main
Assistant Safety Director
Shiel Sexton, Co., Inc.
902 N. Capitol Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Dear Mr. Main:
Thank you for your October 3, 2008 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Since it involved construction issues, it was forwarded to the Directorate of Construction for response. We apologize for the delay in our reply. Your correspondence, including an OSHA guidance slide, and an April 27, 2001, North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Division scaffold interpretation letter to Mr. Don McGee, addresses fall protection requirements for "pump jack scaffolds" used in construction. Particularly you question the accuracy of the slide, number 14 of 33 in OSHA guidance document "Pump Jack/Ladder Jack Scaffold Photo Compliance Guide," March 1998 and North Carolina's reliance on the slide. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of only the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated in your original correspondence.
Question: Can the width of the workbench on a pump scaffold be used to achieve the correct vertical height for a toprail to comply with the OSHA guardrail requirements for pump jack scaffolds?
Answer: No. Paragraph 1926.452(j) contains requirements for pump jack scaffolds. In particular, 1926.452 (j)(3) provides that "a workbench may be used as a toprail only if it meets all the requirements in paragraphs (g)(4) (ii), (vii), (viii), and (xiii) of §1926.451."
Paragraph 1926.451 (g)(4)(ii) states "[t]he top edge height of the toprails or equivalent member on supported scaffolds manufactured or placed in service after January 1, 2000 shall be installed between 38 inches (0.97 m) and 45 inches (1.2 m) above the platform surface." For scaffolds placed in service before January 1, 2000, the top edge height of the toprail may be between 36 and 45 inches. OSHA's regulations contain no exceptions to these requirements based on the width of the workbench.
We will make sure that North Carolina, Indiana and the other states that administer their own OSHA-approved State Plans are aware of the issues concerning the pump jack scaffolds photo compliance guide document and its recent removal from OSHA's web site. These states adopt and enforce occupational safety and health standards that are either identical to or at least as effective as federal OSHA's. For more information, see https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/index.html.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We have deleted the entire "Pump Jack/Ladder Jack Scaffold Photo Compliance Guide", from the OSHA website and hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Directorate of Construction at (202) 693-2020.]
James G. Maddux, Director
Directorate of Construction