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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

September 16, 1983

Mr. Paul D. Kincheloe
Safety Director
PECO Industries, Inc.
Box 25189
Richmond, Virginia 23260-5189

Dear Mr. Kincheloe:

This in response to your letter of August 26, 1983, requesting a clarification of our railing requirements in 29 CFR 1910.23(e).

A variable arrangement system as mentioned in your correspondence would be acceptable if it meets the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.23(e)(3)(v)(a), (b), and (c), as follows:

(v) Other types, sizes, and arrangements of railing construction are acceptable provided they meet the following conditions:

(a) A smooth-surfaced top rail at a height above floor, platform, runway, or ramp level of 42 inches nominal;

(b) A strength to withstand at least the minimum requirement of 200 pounds top rail pressure;

(c) Protection between top rail and floor, platform, runway, ramp, or stair treads, equivalent at least to that afforded by a standard intermediate rail.

As you know, there are [25] State plan jurisdictions which administer their own occupational safety and health programs under approval and subject to monitoring by OSHA. These States must adopt occupational safety and health standards which are at least as effective as the corresponding Federal standards. Most of the [25] State plan jurisdictions adopt and enforce standards that are identical to the Federal. However, six of the states adopt and enforce at least some standards that are different from the Federal counterparts. These six States are: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Michigan, Oregon and Washington. For information on these States' specific requirements relative to 29 CFR 1910.23(e)(2)(v), you should contact them directly. The addresses and telephone numbers for all 24 of the State plan jurisdictions are listed in the enclosed directory.

If we may be of further assistance, please contact [the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-1850].


John K. Barto
Chief, Division of Occupational
Safety Programming