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 https://www.osha.gov.

November 10, 1976

Mr. Philip W. Blake
Vice President
Safety Consulting, Inc.
P. O. Box 4116
Wichita, Kansas 67204

Dear Mr. Blake:

This is in response to your letter of September 10, 1976, regarding the denial of your request for a variance from the requirements of Public Law 91-596, Section 5(a)(1) and 29 CFR 1926.552(b)(1)(ii).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in reviewing your request for a variance, reached the decision that the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.552 Material Hoists, Personnel Hoists, and Elevators do not apply to hoisting devices known as "elevators" on well drilling rigs OSHA indicates this in prior correspondence dated May 21, 1976, to Mr. Cookson of your office (copy enclosed).

The reason OSHA could not consider your request for a permanent variance from Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is because Section 5(a)(1) is not a standard as covered under Section 6 of the Act. Section 6(d) of the Act allows any affected employer to apply to the Secretary of Labor for a rule or order for a variance from a standard promulgated under Section 6 of the Act (copy enclosed).

Your request for OSHA to issue a Field Information Memorandum directing Compliance Safety and Health Officers to no longer cite riding of elevators on oil well rotary drilling rigs, unless in a specific case it can be shown that a hazard exists, has been considered. The CSHO already has written instructions in Section 5(a)(1) of the Act and in the Field Operations Manual, Chapter VIII-A2, General Duty Requirement, requiring that a recognized hazard must exist as one of the requirements for citing Section 5(a)(1) of the Act.

The Act provides safeguards to the employer who objects to an OSHA citation. These include informal conferences with the Area Director, formal conferences, and filing a notice of contest to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The Commission is an independent agency, appointed by the President, and established to hear and act upon notices of contest. The Commission provides and unbiased review of the employer's objections and encourages settlement prior to its decision.

Thank you for your continued interest in safety and health.


John K. Barto, Chief
Division of Occupational
Safety and Programming