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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

April 17, 1981

Mr. Joel Rubinstein
Sadur and Pelland
Chartered Attorneys at Law
2000 L Street, N.W. - Suite 612
Washington, D.C. 20036

Dear Mr. Rubinstein:

The Office of Variance Determination has referred your letter of March 30, 1981, to this office for technical review. The letter requests a temporary variance from sections 29 CFR 1926.105(a) and 1926.105(c)(1) and 29 CFR 1926.750(b)(1)(ii) concerning perimeter netting.

29 CFR 1926.105(a) requires safety nets to be provided when workplaces are more than 25 feet above the ground or water surface, or other surfaces where the use of ladders, scaffolds, catch platforms, temporary floors, safety lines, or safety belts is impractical. This standard has been interpreted by the Courts to mean that employees exposed to falls of 25 feet or more must be protected by safety nets or some other device. Ironworkers tied off to adequately engineered static lines, while working on the horizontal portions of steel trusses, are not in violation of 29 CFR 1926.105(a).

A system of ladders used in accordance with 29 CFR 1926.450 to provide access and egress for ironworkers to the top of the steel properly engineered, would provide required employee protection. Additionally, the alternative method to lift ironworkers in a man-cage complying with both STD 1-11.2 and STD 3-12.3 (copy enclosed) is acceptable.

[This document was edited on 6/20/2005 to strike information that no longer represents OSHA policy.]

An ironworker, while in the process of initially connecting steel members, is ordinarily not required to tie off to the steel with a safety belt, due to the hazard presented by the steel when moving and suspended from a crane. Similarly, in those situations in which it is not possible or more hazardous to protect the connector by other means, such as safety nets, we would not consider it a violation of 29 CFR 1926.105(a) or 1926.105(c)(1), if the ironworker made the initial connection without fall protection. However, once the initial connection is completed, the ironworker would have to tie off to the static line on the truss if he is going to move laterally. It appears from the representations in your letter that some of the connecting work at the D.C. Convention Center cannot be performed at all, or cannot be performed without creating greater hazards unless the connector works without fall protection.

If I may be of further assistance, please call or write.


Bruce Hillenbrand, Deputy Director,
[Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs]

[Correction 6/20/2005. See OSHA Directive CPL 02-01-034 "
Inspection policy and procedures for OSHA's steel erection standards for construction" published on 3/22/2002 for the current policy on OSHA's steel erection standards (1926 Subpart R) for construction.]