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.

December 13, 1976

Mr. George B. Munsey
Munsey Products, Inc.
8507 New Benton Highway
P. O. Box 4285 Asher Station
Little Rock, Arkansas 72204

Dear Mr. Munsey:

This is in reply to your letter of September 28, 1976, in which you expressed concern about the guarding requirements for riveting machines.

The standard covering the requirement for guards on riveting machines is 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(1) and has been in effect since August 27, 1971. Your concern over the fact that this guarding requirement would cause inequities and handicaps for the manufacturer from a competitive standpoint is understandable. However, since 1971 all employers should have been striving to bring their equipment in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) standards.

The suggestion that all establishments should be given a definite date to have their riveting machines guarded is well taken. This was the method used in the original promulgation of the standards in 1971. The standards were ode available to the public on May 29, 1971. However, their effective date was August 27, 1971, some ninety days after publication. The effective date of some of the more extensive guarding requirements for mechanical power presses was delayed until February 1972.

As far as the uniformity of enforcement of the machine guarding standards is concerned, OSHA cannot inspect simultaneously or even within a short time every establishment that would be using rivet machines. This type of situation was anticipated by Congress during the formulation of OSHA's legislation and is one of the reasons for OSHA's proposed penalties when violations are observed during the initial inspection. The strict enforcement of the so-called "First Instance Sanctions" encourages all plant managers to comply voluntarily.

I am sorry to hear that you believe your company has been placed in an economic disadvantage by the OSHA inspection. If you would like to provide specific information in support of your allegation that other companies are not guarding their riveting machines, OSHA would be happy to investigate the otter and report its findings.

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


Morton Corn
Assistant Secretary of Labor