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.

November 6, 1989


                   OFFICE OF FIELD PROGRAMS


SUBJECT:            Applicability of the Field Sanitation Standard
                   29 CFR 1928.110 to the "REFORESTATION" Industry
                   (SIC 0851)

After a thorough review of your request for an interpretation of whether reforestation (SIC code 0851) is covered under the Field Sanitation standard (29 CFR 1928.110), it is our position that reforestation is covered under the standard. The reforestation process involves site preparation, chemical applications, direct seeding planting, animal control, spraying, pre-commercial thinning, and pruning; various machines, hand tools, chemicals, explosives, and sprayers are used. However, because the process of re-establishing tree crops involves many variables, it is imperative that we distinguish between those aspects of reforestation that are and are not covered.

Initially, we note that, although logging operations are excluded from the standard, this exclusion does not apply to reforestation. In addition to the fact that reforestation is more similar to other agricultural field operations than it is to logging, logging is in a SIC manufacturing classification (SIC 24) while reforestation is part of forestry (SIC 08) which is included in the same main division of the SIC Code as agriculture and fisheries. Further, several courts have determined that employees engaged in reforestation are covered by other remedial legislation for the protection of agricultural workers.

The hand-labor aspect of reforestation, the most common method, involves hand seeding, chopping, burning, spraying, and planting. Hand planting is the most practical means of reforestation, especially on steep slopes, shallow soils, or rough terrain.

Reforestation workers use various fertilizers, chemicals and sprays, do plant thinning and pruning, and undertake prescribed burning. These tasks are performed on a variety of terrains. These workers can be in the field up to eight (8) hours a day, and sometimes longer, in crews ranging from two (2) to thirty (30) or more, and can work either yearly or seasonally. These workers use such hand tools as torches, flame and chemical sprayers, seeding sticks, hose, planting bars, shovels, augers, tubes, tree girdling tools, saws and clippers. Employees engaged in these "hand-labor operations" (as defined in 1928.110(b)(iii)) in reforestation work under the same conditions and face most of the hazards addressed by the field sanitation standard. Thus, these employees require the protections of that standard.

Aerial spraying of chemicals and seeds and the use of various tractors are other common means used in reforestation. Workers engaged in means are not involved in "hand-labor operation," and these are not covered by the standard. To the extent that these employees are not engaged in "hand-labor operations," their employers are not subject the field sanitation requirements.