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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

July 30, 1979

Mr. J. B. Kawas, P.E.
Fluor Engineers and Constructors, Inc.
4620 North Braeswood
Houston, Texas 77096

Dear Mr. Kawas:

This is in response to your inquiry addressed to Dr. Purswell concerning the enforcement of 29 CFR 1910.23(a)(9), for floor openings and holes. Your letter was forwarded to this office for response.

29 CFR 1910.23(a)(9) does require that every floor hole into which persons cannot accidentally walk (on account of fixed machinery, equipment, or walls) shall be protected by a cover that leaves no openings more than 1 inch wide. However, the sketches enclosed with your letter show that you have installed a 4 inch toeboard around the necessary pipe opening for the added protection of employees.

It appears that the minor technical deviations from the subject standard as indicated on sketch #1 has no direct or immediate relationship to safety and health and during an OSHA inspection would be noted as a de minimis violation. Based on the blueprints submitted the 4 inch toeboard provides equivalent protection and allows some additional space for pipe movement as needed. No penalties are proposed for de minimis violations, no notices are issued, and there is no abatement requirement.

I hope this information will be helpful to you in understanding our position in this matter. If I may be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me.



Grover C. Wrenn Director,
Federal Compliance
and State Programs