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.

June 7, 1991

Mr. Morris Hirschhorn, P.C.
Attorney at Law
One Hollow Lane
Suite 310
Lake Success, New York 11042

Dear Mr. Hirschhorn:

This is in response to your letter of March 20, addressed to James Foster, Director, Office of Information and Consumer Affairs, in which you sought from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) answers pertaining to what obligations contractors, on behalf of landowners, have to remove dead trees from the forest before logging operations commence, and if contractors and loggers, the latter as an employer, share responsibility for safety conditions in the forest. We apologize for the delay in our response.

In your letter, you also asked if loggers, as employers or employees, are covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHAct), whether OSHA has regulations holding contractors and loggers responsible for the removal of fallen trees, and if the Agency could furnish you with the names of several forestry safety experts.

Section 5(a)(1) of the OSHAct places a general duty on the employer to provide to his employees employment and a place of employment free from recognized hazards that could cause death or serious bodily harm. An important criterion that may be used to determine whether the landowner, contractor or the logger is the employer, for the purpose of complying with the OSHAct, is who controls the manner in which the employees perform their assigned work (the utilizing employer). The utilizing employer, supervising and controlling the employees, is responsible for safety in the forest, including the removal of dead trees before logging commences.

Normally, citations are issued to employers whose employees are exposed to hazards. However, the landowner or contractor, if different from the logger, as an employer, may also be subject to citations, whether or not their own employees are exposed, if OSHA determines that the employer created the hazard, is responsible for safety and health conditions at the worksite, and has responsibility for correcting the hazard.

With respect to your question of whether OSHA regulations and standards apply to loggers as employers or employees, we answer that the regulations and the standards would not apply to the logger if the logger is self-employed and does not have employees. OSHA regulations cover employers with employees.

OSHA regulations requiring the removal of dead, broken or rotted limbs or trees before work commences in the forest are found in [29 CFR 1910.266(h)(2)(ii)]. A copy of this specific regulation is enclosed for your information.

OSHA is in the process of revising its logging standards. Several public hearings have been conducted towards drafting new regulations. Any current written data on this subject may be obtained from [Directorate of Standards and Guidance, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room N3609, Washington, D.C. 20210, phone (202) 693-1950].

Finally, we have enclosed a list of forestry experts, members of the Council on Forest Engineering (COFE), who may be able to assist you with your concerns. Some of the experts are associated with the State University of New York (SUNY) School of Forestry, which is headquartered at Syracuse University.

Please feel free to contact us if you have additional questions.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]

[Corrected 05/28/2004]