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.

December 19, 1991

 

 

MEMORANDUM FOR: PATRICIA K. CLARK, DIRECTOR
DIRECTORATE OF COMPLIANCE PROGRAMMING
 
FROM: LINDA R. ANKU
REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR
 
SUBJECT: OBSTRUCTED EXIT PERMITTED BY USDA

 


The purpose of this memorandum is to bring to your attention an incident that may indicate that some USDA inspectors are permitting means of egress to be obstructed based on a requirement that certain doors be "sealed". The doors are "sealed" to prevent contamination of the food. As a result of the fire in North Carolina, USDA inspectors were instructed to insure that "sealed" doors were not padlocked. An employer that had a padlock on a "sealed" door, that was an exit, was required to remove it by a USDA inspector but was permitted to insert a bolt through the hasp where the padlock had been. The bolt would have had to be manually removed before the door could be opened.

The bolt inserted through the hasp had a hole in it through which a wire was run. The wire could only be removed if it was broken, which would indicate that the "sealed" door had been opened. The USDA inspector did not realize that the method used to seal the door was still not in compliance with OSHA regulations as he only had been instructed to insure that such doors were not padlocked.

The USDA was contacted and advised of the problem and they took immediate steps to have it corrected. However, the incident raises serious concerns as to whether this is occurring at other USDA regulated facilities. The USDA representative indicated that they are to receive safety training from OSHA in the near future but until then there could be a problem with obstructed exits. We would suggest that consideration be given to immediately contacting the USDA and urging them to advise their inspectors as to what constitutes an obstructed exit.

This incident occurred at:

 

 

M.H.B. Inc. dba Harrisons Meatpacking
1207 Almond Street
Williamsport, Pa. 17702

If you need any additional information regarding the preceding, please contact John McFee at FTS 596-1201.