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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

September 18, 1979

Mr. John F. Perry
Springer & Perry
Attorneys At Law
Suite 2300
301 Fifth Avenue Building
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222

Dear Mr. Perry:

This is in response to your recent inquiry requesting clarification of OSHA's position in the application of 29 CFR 1926.500(d)(1).

29 CFR 1926.500(d)(1) requires every opensided floor or platform 6 feet or more above the adjacent floor or ground level to be guarded by a standard railing or the equivalent on all open sides, except where there is an entrance to a ramp, stairway, or fixed ladder.

In work situations where a standard railing is not practical, safety belts and lanyards attached to a structural member or static line meeting the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.104 may be used to prevent employees from walking off the edge of opensided floors or platforms. Safety nets also may be used to protect employees erecting and installing Flexicore concrete slabs when the use of safety belts is impractical.

The roofing industry contends that they have a unique problem with flat roofs because the hot roofing material makes the use of a safety belt and lanyard impractical and the installation of flashing at the edge of the roof prevents the use of a standard railing and net. We are now developing specific standards for the protection of the roofer. Although Patterson Construction Company periodically works on floors which are the top of a building in its unfinished state, such a floor is not a roof if it will subsequently be covered by another level. Such a floor is not subject to the same conditions that limit the use of guardrails and safety belts on flat roofs. Therefore, the Patterson Company is required to comply with 1926.500(d)(1) when working on these floors.

We hope this information will be helpful to you. If we may be of any further assistance, please feel free to call or write.


Grover C. Wrenn Director,
Federal Compliance
and State Programs