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.

March 1, 1977

Glen Walker, Esq.
American Airlines, Inc.
633 Third Avenue
New York, New York 10017

Dear Mr. Walker:

This is to confirm the notice given to you from Francis V. LaRuffa, Regional Solicitor, U.S. Department of Labor, New York, in a letter dated September 20, 1976, that the opinion letter dated December 4, 1972, from Gerald F. Scannell to M. W. Eastburn is being withdrawn.

We have reviewed that opinion letter, dated December 4, 1972, which concerns the installation of certain handrails on mobile belt loader conveyors for aircraft, when employees are walking on those conveyors and wish to clarify some of the statements made therein.

While there are no OSHA standards to cover the situation you describe, you should note that an employer would be in violation of section 5(a)(1) of the Act if he failed to provide adequate protection to employees where the height of the belt loader together with other conditions creates a situation which constitutes a recognized hazard likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Support for the assertion that failure to guard conveyor belts in this situation constitutes a recognized hazard is derived from the fact that ANSI B20.1-1957, Section 10d, incorporated by reference at 29 CFR [1910.261(a)(3)(v)], Pulp, Paper, and Paperboard Mills; 29 CFR 1910.265(c)(18) Sawmills; and 29 CFR 1926.555(a)(8), Conveyors, recognizes that employees are exposed to hazardous conditions when working on conveyors. Thus the ANSI standard states:

No riding shall be permitted on a conveyor at any time, unless it is specifically designed to convey passengers or the operator.

Finally we wish to note that where employees utilizing the mobile belt loading equipment are not generally walking in an upright position but in a crouched position, and are exposed to a recognized hazard so that railings are required, the installation of a handrail approximately 18 inches to 24 inches above the belt would normally provide adequate employee protection.

Thank you for your concern and continuing interest in occupational safety and health.





Richard P. Wilson
Deputy Director,
Federal Compliance and State Programs