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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

February 12, 1982

Philip H. Clarkson, P.E.
Manager, Structural Engineering
Lockwood Greene Engineers, Inc.
Post Office Box 491
Spartanburg, South Carolina 29304

Dear Mr. Clarkson:

This is in response to your letter of January 19, 1982, concerning the use of a safety chain in lieu of a gate. Your letter addressed to the Atlanta Regional Office was forwarded to this office for response.

29 CFR 1910.23(a)(2) does require ladderway openings to be provided with a swinging gate or offset passage. However, if in fact the safety chains used for top and intermediate rails afford employees protection "at least as effective as" the swinging gate, the safety chains would be adequate and noted as a de minimis violation.

Under OSHA's operating procedures there are provisions whereby a de minimis violation will be noted during the inspection for employers who have not met the exact requirements and/or specifications of the standards. A de minimis violation is one which has no direct or immediate relationship to the safety or health of employees, carries no penalties and does not require abatement of the violation. A copy of the directive on this subject is enclosed for your information.

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



John K. Barto
Division of Occupational Safety Programming