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 http://www.osha.gov.

July 15, 1982

Mr. Donald A. Hornstein
Channellock, Inc.
Meadville, Pennsylvania 16335

Dear Mr. Hornstein:

Thank you for your letter of May 13, 1982, and the photos provided on June 25, 1982, concerning the two pneumatic plier straightening presses.

As you are aware, your letter requesting a variance for these machines was denied and forwarded to this office for consideration. The photos were of major assistance together with your letter which describes the straightening procedure.

The OSHA requirement for guarding the point of operation of all machines is specified by 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(3)(ii). That standard requires that, in the absence of applicable specific standards (specifications), guarding shall be so designed and constructed as to prevent operator exposure during the operating cycle. The plier straightening presses are a unique situation for which specification standards are not available, therefore, an evaluation of the circumstances is appropriate.

The completely unguarded sides of the presses provide no protection from the point of operation pinch point hazard. Completely enclosing the sides would, of course, make the machines unusable. However, partial guards on the sides which would allow the proper insertion of parts, but which preclude the insertion of a hand would afford operator safeguarding from the point of operation hazard. Such side guards may be adjustable in height to accommodate the variety of parts described in your letter.

It is anticipated that the slotted opening in the side guards, for part insertion, would not snugly fit the parts. An opening width (or depth) in excess of the lower die dimension would be acceptable with the guard height opening adjusted to be no more than 1/2 inch greater than the part thickness at a distance of up to 3 1/2 inches from the ram or 5/8 inch at more than 3 1/2 inches from the ram. Considering the position of the operator, such an opening would not readily permit the operator to insert a hand into the point of operation and would comply with table 0-10 of the OSHA standard. Although an unusual action by the operator might result in exposure to the point operation, OSHA would consider such a circumstance a de-minimis violation and not subject to a citation nor requiring correction by the employer.

If in addition to the front barrier guard adjustable side barrier guards are fitted to the presses, such as described herein, the presses would be in compliance with 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(ii).

From the information provided us, it appears that the installation of adjustable side barrier guards will not inhibit the utility of the presses while they would provide for operator safety. If we may be of further assistance, please contact me.


Patrick R. Tyson
Federal Compliance and State Programs