Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

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

May 1, 1975

Mr. James Hahn
Plant Manager
Cudahy Tanning Company, Inc.
5043 South Packard Avenue
Cudahy, Wisconsin 53110

Dear Mr. Hahn:

This is in reference to your application for a variance from [29 CFR 1910.36(g)(1)] of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards.

You have stated that two doorways, one leading to the lunch-locker room and one to the third floor of the plant, are 5' 6" in height. The top purlin of these doorways have been padded with ½" to ¾" foam rubber, painted yellow, and signs reading "Danger, Low Clearance, Watch Your Head" have been posted on each side of these purlins. You have also stated that these are not the only [exit routes] from these two areas.

As you know, a visit was made to your workplace for the purpose of obtaining first-hand information concerning the doorways. This report confirms that there are four exits from the second floor and three from the third floor. In addition, each floor has an elevator with two exits flanking it. The second floor lunchroom is used by approximately 35 employees and the third floor area is used by 10 employees. The secondary use of the doorways, the fact that the top purlins of the doorways are padded and warning signs are posted, and the small number of employees involved indicates that the low doorways do not affect the safety and health of the employees.

In such a situation an Area Director has the authority to issue a de minimis notice of violation. A de minimis notice carries no penalty and requires no abatement. The report from the Regional Office contained a recommendation that, as long as the padding, signs, and occupancy continue as they are, the violation be termed de minimis.

Accordingly, no further action will be taken on your request for a variance. The interim order which was granted is now moot.


Barry J. White
Associate Assistant Secretary for
Regional Programs

[Corrected 2/4/2004]