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.

June 24, 1981


THRU:               JOHN. B. MILES, JR.
                   FIELD COORDINATOR

                   DEPUTY DIRECTOR,

SUBJECT:            Guarding of Alligators Shears

As you are aware, alligator shears are used in a great variety of situations and may not be generally compatible with any one guarding method or concept. In instances where the shear is exclusively used for routine cuts on standardized stock, safeguarding of the point of operation is definable. In other instances, the operator is safeguarded from exposure to the point of operation by the physical size and configuration of the material being cut. However, a worrisome hazard regarding the use of this machine stems from the exposure of the employee to impact from the free end of the material at the time of cutting. Consideration needs to be given to the necessity for material hold down devices.

The National Safety Council data sheet 213 (copy attached) provides excellent guidance for evaluation and safeguarding of alligator shears.

The unique application of the alligator shear to each set of circumstances requires an individual evaluation of the associated hazards by a safety professional. There is no single safeguarding method, of which we are aware, which offers a practical solution for all uses of an alligator shear. Good safety engineering judgement must be applied when considering each application of the machine. Hazardous applications involving alligator shears are violations of 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(1) or (a)(3)(ii).