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 http://www.osha.gov.

May 16, 1989

Ms. Kathleen V. Hopkins
Corporate Director of Safety
George Hyman Construction Company
7500 Old Georgetown Road
Bethesda, Maryland 2084-6196

Dear Ms. Hopkins:

This is in response to your correspondence to Mr. Roy Gurnham, Director, Office of Construction and Civil Engineering Safety Standards requesting clarification of the assured equipment grounding conductor program requirements. Since this is more of a compliance issue, your letter was forwarded to the Office of Construction and Maritime Compliance Assistance.

A ground-fault circuit interrupter, which monitors current leakage, does not perform any type of monitoring function or continuity check. Therefore, a Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) may not be used in lieu of a tester or meter that can test for continuity of the equipment grounding conductor. Employers using this substitution are in violation of the ground-fault protection standard.

Paragraph (b)(1)(iii)(D) of 29 CFR 1926.404 clearly requires a test of the continuity of the equipment grounding conductors in use or before being placed in service. An employer can, however, comply with 1926.404(b)(1)(iii), which requires the use of GFCI's to protect employees, instead of the extensive program outlined for an assured grounding system outlined in 1926.404(b)(i)(iii).

Hopefully this information will be of assistance to you in developing a corporate program. If you need additional assistance, do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely,

Gerald P. Reidy, Director
Office of Construction and Maritime
Compliance Assistance