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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

March 20, 1986

Mr. Thomas P. Brantley
Project Engineers
Bradenton Wastewater Treatment
Plant & Improvements
Post Office Box 70
Bradenton, Florida 33506

Dear Mr. Brantley:

This is in response to your letter of March 5, requesting a clarification of our design criteria for a standard railing as required in 29 CFR 1926.500(f)(1)(iii) through (vi). Your letter addressed to Mr. Allan E. Martin was forwarded to this office of response. This also confirms your telephone conversation with a member of my staff on March 13.

29 CFR 1926.500(f)(1)(iv) requires that the anchoring of parts and framing of members for railings of all types shall be of such construction that the completed structure shall be capable of withstanding a load of at least 200 pounds applied in any direction at any point on the top rail, with a minimum of deflection. The 200 pound force is considered as a single concentrated load acting at any point on the top rail, with a minimum of deflection. This usually allows a load reduction at the posts due to the transmission of the load through the top railing.

29 CFR 1910.23(e) includes the same design criteria for guardrail systems to be used in general industry.

If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to let us know.


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