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.



February 6, 1989

Mr. Max E. Rumbaugh, Jr.
Executive Vice President
Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc.
400 Commonwealth Drive
Warrendale, Pennsylvania 15096

Dear Mr. Rumbaugh:

This is in response to your letter of January 5, addressed to Assistant Secretary John A. Pendergrass, concerning the SAE J2194 standard for Agricultural Tractor Rollover Protective Structures (ROPS).

As you may be aware, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a policy concerning de minimis violations of OSHA regulations, copy enclosed. Technical violation of an OSHA regulation which is in conflict with a current industry consensus standard may be determined to be a de minimis violation, if the current industry standard provides for equal or greater employee safety.

However, in this particular case, it is difficult for OSHA to ascertain if the new standard does in fact provide for greater or even equal protection for employees. In order for us to evaluate this issue, further technical details would be helpful. In that regard, I have asked Mr. Joseph Bode of my staff to contact you. His telephone number is 202-523-8031.

We appreciate your forwarding this information to us.


Thomas J. Shepich, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs


January 5, 1989

Mr. John A. Pendergrass
Assistant Secretary of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20210

Subject: OSHA Standard Part 1928 Subpart C, Agricultural Tractor Rollover Protection Performance -- Recognition of New SAE Standard

Dear Mr. Pendergrass:

Important updating of Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS) Standards for wheeled agricultural tractors has been implemented by SAE. This action has bearing upon the relevancy of Part 1928 Subpart C. This information is brought to your attention so that OSHA can consider issuing an administrative letter to its field enforcement personnel recognizing this most recent SAE ROPS standard as an acceptable alternative to the current rule.

The subject OSHA standard was promulgated on April 25, 1975. It was based upon SAE J334b, the then current non government voluntary standard governing ROPS performance. Since then, SAE has revised its ROPS performance standards for agricultural tractors twice with OSHA 1928 Subpart C remaining unchanged. SAE J2194 (copy attached) has created the first United States authored standard that is in harmony and technical agreement with worldwide ROPS performance standards issued by the International Organization for Standardization (i.e., [ISO 3463] and [ISO 5700]).

This action by SAE, while undertaken primarily to align the SAE standards with [ISO], was also encouraged by the United States Department of Commerce to support compliance with the GATT Agreement. SAE was advised that not having a U.S. Standard compatible with a worldwide recognized standard has restricted trade with American trading partners and stymied proposals for reciprocity for other issues.

Careful comparison of SAE J2194 and the 1975 OSHA rule will show differences in the areas of tractor mass, test loadings/sequences, clearance zone and limitations on tractor size. These differences notwithstanding, the [ISO] standards-and the technically equivalent SAE J2194-have afforded at least equal protection for the tractor operator as can be evidenced by excellent operator protection safety records for countries outside of North America.

The cumulative experience of U.S. manufacturers has shod that when SAE J2194 ([ISO 3463] and [ISO 5700]) was applied to ROPS certified according to OSHA Part 1928 Subpart C, some redesign was required to strengthen the structures to pass SAE J2194. Therefore, there is every reason to believe that this new standard provides equal or better protection for the operator.

SAE encourages OSHA's immediate issuance of an administrative field letter allowing SAE J2194. If requested, SAE will work with you in any way possible to present data and information accumulated in developing SAE J2194. This action will be viewed by America's trading partners as evidence of U.S. sincerity in support of the GATT Agreement and help assure that the United States can remain an effective participant in the world agricultural equipment market. We await your timely reply.


Max E. Rumbaugh, Jr.
Executive Vice President

[Corrected 2/27/2007]