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.

August 23, 1983

Honorable Norman Sisisky
Member, United States
House of Representatives
Virginia First Savings and
Loan Building
Room 607
Franklin and Adams Street
Petersburg, Virginia 23803

Dear Congressman Sisisky:

This is in response to your letter of July 29, 1983, on behalf of Mr. Buddy R. Lipes, concerning OSHA's regulations for the wearing of hard hats.

The OSHA standards 29 CFR 1926.100 for construction and 29 CFR 1910.132 and 1910.135 for general industry (copies enclosed) outline the requirements for head protection. The standards require that head protection be used whenever it is necessary by reason of hazard of processes or environment that could cause head injuries.

The employer must determine which employees are exposed to possible head injury hazards, and assure that they wear appropriate head protection. Where employees are not exposed to possible head injuries, head protection is not required by OSHA standards. An employer may choose to require the wearing of head protection by certain employees or in certain activities at all times as a precautionary measure, although this may be a matter subject to labor/management negotiation.

OSHA has no exhaustive guidelines for determining whether head protection is required, this must be done on a case-by-case basis, depending on the specific operation, worksite, potential hazards, and other circumstances.

I hope this information will be of help to you. If I may be of further assistance, please contact me.


Thorne G. Auchter
Assistant Secretary