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 8, 1986

Ivan Freud, Vice-President
Howell Woodwork Inc.
520 James Street
Lakewood, New Jersey 08701

Dear Mr. Freud:

This is in response to your letter of June 13, 1986, concerning the safe use of portable, compressed-air-actuated, fastener driving tools (staple guns) used at your facilities. A review of the issue indicated a variance would not be appropriate for the circumstances.

Portable, compressed-air-actuated, fastener driving tools which are not used in compliance with an applicable industry consensus standard may be determined to be in violation of the OSHA standards at 29 CFR 1910.212 and/or 29 1910.242(a). The American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI), and the International Staple, Nail and Tool Association (ISANTA) have published ANSI/ISANTA SNT-101-1983, Safety Requirements for Heavy-Duty, Portable, Compressed-Air-Actuated, Fastener Driving Tools. The standard, developed by the industry consensus group, is applicable to heavy duty portable pneumatic powered staplers and/or nailers and is considered to be an appropriate standard within the meaning of 1910.212(a)(3)(ii). Publication of the standard has established industry recognition of the safeguards required. A copy of the standard is attached.

The ANSI standard pertains to portable pneumatic powered devices which drive fasteners made from material of cross sectional area equal to or greater that 18 gage per the American Steel Wire Gage (ASWG). (18 ASWG was formerly Washburn & Moen or Roebling.)

The ANSI standard specifies that fastening devices which drive nails, staples, etc., and which utilize fasteners of 18 ASWG or greater shall be equipped with a "work-contacting element" (interlocked pressure foot) for the prevention of accidental fastener discharges. The ANSI standard also specifies certain exceptions under which these pneumatic tools may be operated without a work-contacting element installed. However, only safeguarded pneumatic tools are acceptable to OSHA where hazardous employee exposures are substantiated. Unsafeguarded devices may be acceptable if an employer can demonstrate that the same degree of safety is provided by other means, or if safeguarding is not feasible and all other feasible means of protection are being utilized. (See Sections 4.3.4 and 4.3.5 of ANSI/ISANTA SNT-101-1983.

It is recommended that further consideration of alternative employee safeguarding which conform to the recommendations of ANSI/ISANTA SNT-101-1983 be fully evaluated and complied with.

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


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