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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

November 2, 1984

O. J. Fisher, Manager
General Technology
McDermott Incorporated
20 S. Van Buren Avenue
Post Office Box 271
Barberton, Ohio 44203

Dear Mr. Fisher:

This is in response to your letter of August 17, 1984, in which you requested an interpretation of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard pertaining to walking and working surfaces. Specifically, your request concerns the safeguarding of floor holes between a platform and equipment that moves due to thermal expansion or for other reasons.

As you are aware, OSHA is in the process of revising Subpart D of 29 CFR 1910. Current drafts of Subpart D permit a 12-inch maximum clearance between machinery, piping, or other equipment (such as boilers) and the platforms through which they pass. Only toeboards will be required around the perimeter of the opening where the equipment prevents physical access to falls. The toeboard is intended to prevent the feet of employees in near proximity to the hole from falling into the opening, and will prevent tools from accidentally falling upon employees below.

Accordingly, floor holes in restricted access areas which meet the definition of 29 CFR 1910.21(a)(1), enclosed, are regarded as a de minimis violation of our standards at 29 CFR 1910.23 and do not require further safeguarding if such floor holes are provided with standard toeboards. The toeboards are intended to prevent tools from falling upon employees below and to prevent an employee from accidentally falling into the opening.

If we may be of further assistance, please contact us.



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