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.


January 21, 1981

Mr. John W. Whittlesey
Chief Labor Counsel Union
Carbide Corporation
270 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10017

Dear Mr. Whittlesey:

This is in response to your letter dated January 7, 1981, requesting a variance from or a clarification of [29 CFR 1910.36(g)(1)].

You have stated that your new headquarters building located at Old Ridgebury Road, Danbury, Connecticut contain certain areas in some of the egress corridors that measure from 7'4 7/8" to 7'6" depending on the particular area measured. You have further stated that the average distance from the floor to the bottom of the projection (ceiling cover) is 7 feet five and one quarter inches. You contend that this minor deviation does not impose any obstruction whatever to egress in the event of the hazards set forth in Section [29 CFR 1910.37].

Based upon your letter and the supporting material contained therein, it appears that the slight or minor deviation from [29 CFR 1910.36(g)(1)] would meet the conditions of a de minimis violation as described in [the Field Operations Manual] A de minimis violation recognizes minor technical deviations (height requirement) which have no direct or immediate relationship to the safety and health of the employees. A copy of the subject directive is enclosed for your guidance.

Based on the above clarification of this matter, a variance from Section [29 CFR 1910.36(g)(1)] will be unnecessary.


James J. Concannon, Director
Office of Variance Determination

[Corrected 1/21/2009]