• Standard Number:

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 28, 1982

Mr. J. E. Shelly
Manager, Electrical and Electronic Engineering
S.I.P. Engineering Inc.
P.O. Box 34311
Houston, Texas 77034

Dear Mr. Shelly:

Thank you for your letter of July 1, 1982, concerning handrail and railing clearance for stanchion-mounted lights on stairways and platforms. Your letter was referred to this office for reply.

The OSHA National Office concurs with the clearance interpretation as stated in our Chicago Regional Office's May 10, 1979 letter. Accordingly, OSHA's nationwide interpretive position is the following:


A handrail as used on stairs, incline ramps, fixed industrial stairs, ships ladders, and other similar types, where the handrail is used to assist in maintaining balance in traversing from one elevation to another, should be designed to maintain the desired clearance. OSHA STD 1-1.6 (enclosed) allows 1-½-inch clearance.

Where railings are used on platforms and other surfaces to act as a perimeter guard to prevent falls from working and walking surfaces, the maintaining of the clearance is not as important. Therefore, it should not be considered a violation of the standard to mount lighting stands to the top railing and toeboard to illuminate the platform.



Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact [the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850].


Patrick R. Tyson
Federal Compliance and State Programs

[Corrected 4/20/2009]