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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

March 23, 1976

Mr. Neill Darmstadter
Senior Safety Engineer
American Trucking Associations, Inc.
1616 P Street, N.W.
Washington, D. C. 20036

Dear Mr. Darmstadter:

This is in response to your letter of February 6, 1976, with attachments, regarding an exception from 29 CFR 1910.23(b) for loading docks used as such.

The attached memorandum from John O'Neill of OSHA's National Office dated December 13, 1971, needs further clarification. Mr. O'Neill's statement that the specifications of 29 CFR 1910.23(c) are not applicable to loading docks as such is limited to the loading and unloading areas of docks which are occupied by employees for the purpose of gaining access to the equipment at the working face of the dock. This equipment at the working face of the dock is usually trucks, trailers, or railroad rolling stock.

Open-sided dock areas 4 feet or more above adjacent floor or ground level where there is the danger of employee falling shall be guarded by a standard railing or the equivalent.

Field Information Memorandum #75-40, June 2, 1975, Subject: Guarding Floor and Wall Openings and Holes - General Industry (copy enclosed) covers situations where violations of 29 CFR 1910.23(c)(1) shall be considered de minimis. It appears that this Field Information Memorandum would also cover 29 CFR 1910.23(b) Protection for Wall Openings and Holes as the subject of the memorandum indicates.

It should be noted that 29 CFR 1910.178(m)(6) Powered Industrial Trucks-Truck Operations states:

A safe distance shall be maintained from the edge, of ramps or platforms while on any elevated dock, or platform or freight car.

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


John K. Barto, Chief
Division of Occupational Safety Programming