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.

May 17, 1990

Mr. Ernest J. Frederick Senior Civil Engineer Raytheon Service Company Suite 901 18000 Pacific Highway South Seattle, Washington 98188

Dear Mr. Frederick:

This is in response to your letter of March 19 addressed to Mr. Gerald Reidy, Director, Office of Construction/Maritime Compliance Assistance, concerning head clearance requirements for fixed ladders used on FAA radio communication towers varying in height from 30 to 150 feet.

Regarding 29 CFR 1910.268(h) Telecommunications Ladders, the following clarifications are provided:

1. 29 CFR 1910.268(h) does not specifically cover clearances on the climbing side of fixed ladders, and

2. 29 CFR 1910.268(a)(3) states in part, "Operations or conditions not specifically covered by this section are subject to all applicable standards contained in this Part 1910," therefore;

3. 29 CFR 1910.27(c)(1) Climbing Side Clearance, Fixed Ladders, copy enclosed, pertains to clearances on the climbing side of fixed ladders installed on FAA radio communication towers. That standard requires the clearance on the climbing side of a vertical fixed ladder to be 30 inches.

4. Also, enclosed is the newly released Occupational Safety and Health Administration standard "Walking and Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment", 29 CFR 1910.23(c)(13) page 13399, and ANSI A14.3-1984, Section which state that "When unavoidable obstructions are encountered, the minimum clearance may be reduced to 24 inches if deflection plates are provided".

5. If an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance officer were to observe conditions as described in item 4 above, a violation would be noted and classified as de minimis, with no abatement required and no penalty assessed. De minimis violations are explained by an enclosure from our Field Operations Manual.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. If we may be of further assistance, please contact us.


Patricia K. Clark Director Designate Directorate of Compliance Programs