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.

July 24, 1984

Mr. B. J. Newton
Territory Safety Coordinator
Turner Construction Company
55 West Monroe Street
Chicago, Illinois 60603

Dear Mr. Newton:

This is in response to your letter of June 29, concerning the acceptability of wire rope and/or cable as a method of perimeter protection for a building under construction.

The use of wire ropes as top rails and intermediate rails of guardrail systems used for perimeter protection or for guardrails used on scaffolding meeting the equivalent requirements of 29 CFR 1926.500(d)(1) and 29 CFR 1926.451(a)(5) is acceptable provided it meets the following guidelines:

(1) Wire rope shall be secured to each support and taut at all times.

(2) The wire rope shall be free of sharp edges, burrs, or projections which may be a hazard.

(3) The maximum deflection of the top rail when a load of 200 pounds is applied in any direction at any point on the top rail shall not exceed 3 inches in one direction which includes the free hanging sag in the wire rope.

Our compliance officers are aware that wire rope is an acceptable method of perimeter protection for buildings under construction.

If we can be of further assistance, please let use know.


John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Field Operations