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.

February 5, 1992

Mr. J. R. Pizzano
Project Manager, Reactor Services Project
Newport News Shipbuilding
4101 Washington Avenue
Newport News, Virginia 23607

Dear Mr. Pizzano:

This correspondence is in response to your letter dated June 18, 1991, which requested an interpretation of the standards addressing the required frequency of periodic wire rope inspections for lifting equipment. Please excuse our delay in responding to your inquiry.

The interpretation requested in your letter involves further determination as to whether following the current ANSI standards for lifting equipment wire rope inspections would: 1) constitute a de minimis violation, or 2) be in complete compliance with 29 CFR 1910 standards. As was explained previously in Mr. Sauger's letter of March 21, 1990, when an employer is not in complete compliance with a provision of an OSHA standard but is following a currently accepted industry standard which provides equivalent employee safety, such violation of the OSHA standard would be considered de minimis. Based on our understanding of the facts as presented, we consider your procedures which follow the current ANSI standards pertaining to the periodic inspection of wire rope on lifting devices, to be a de minimis violation of the applicable OSHA standards pertaining to the monthly inspections of such rope.

The incorporation of national consensus standards into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is allowed by the Administrative Procedure Act, on the condition that the incorporation is approved by the Director of the Federal Register, and that the material is made reasonably available to the persons affected. The standard which governs incorporation by reference, 29 CFR 1910.6, was amended in February 1984 to clarify that only mandatory provisions of standards incorporated by reference are adopted as OSHA standards. Although revisions and amendments to a national consensus standard are allowed prior to adoption as federal regulations, once a national consensus standard is adopted, including any revisions and amendments, the CFR cannot be further changed without compliance with the rulemaking process. Therefore, as subsequent versions of the national consensus standard are updated, they do not automatically supersede the version which was adopted as a federal regulation.

Should it be desired, you may apply for a permanent variance in order to allow you to use the current ANSI standards. Please refer to Section 1905.11 of the attached copy of 29 CFR 1905 for the criteria to complete an application for a permanent variance. A permanent variance can be obtained through the submission of a valid request requiring an alternate method, system, procedure, etc., which is as safe and healthful as the requirements of the standard from which the variance is sought.

We hope that we have responded fully to your concerns. Your interest in occupational safety and health is appreciated.


Patricia K. Clark
Directorate of Compliance Programs