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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

September 8, 1975

Mr. C. R. Stauffer
Executive Offices
Texaco, Inc.
135 East 42nd Street
New York, New York 10017

Dear Mr. Stauffer:

Your correspondence dated June 3, 1975, regarding a clarification of 29 CFR 1910.23(b) protection for wall openings and holes, has been referred to this office for response. This also confirms a member of my staff's phone call to you on August 19, 1975.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concurs with your opinion that the window walls for the Texaco-Harrison Office Facility, Harrison, New York, are not in violation of 29 CFR 1910.23(b). This position is based on your statement that the window wall on the periphery of the building is set back from the exterior surface a distance of 9 feet 9 inches, while the window wall on the interior courtyards are set back from the exterior edge 42 feet 3 inches. These distances would normally prohibit an employee from falling after passing through these walls, as long as the floor extended to the exterior edge.

In situations where the entire wall is comprised of permanently installed glazing material (glass or plastic) with no openings, temporary or otherwise, the standards relating to wall openings shall not apply. This position is based on the definition of a wall opening 29 CFR 1910.21(a)(11) and the explanatory parts of 1910.23(b) protection for wall openings and holes.

In situations described above, the Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) has to evaluate employee exposure to the wall, whether the wall is constructed with safety glazing material and secured properly, and the distance of fall, if the employee passed through this wall.

Under conditions where an employee is exposed to possible contact with the glazing material that would cause cutting and piercing injuries and/or passing through this glazing material would cause the employee to fall to another level, the CSHO would consider the application of Section 5.(a)(1) of the Act, which requires the following:

Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.

If I may be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me.


Barry J. White
Associate Assistant Secretary
for Regional Programs