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 27, 1992

                    DIRECTORATE OF POLICY
SUBJECT:            Variance Request #2164 from Envirosafe Management
                    Services, Inc.

This is in response to a January 29 memorandum from Ms. Lorraine Colbert of your staff to Mr. H. Berrien Zettler requesting our compliance policy on enforcement of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards with respect to workplace applications on which OSHA is considering a request for variance.


An employer is subject to citations for any violations of OSHA standards observed by a Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) during a workplace inspection. Workplace violations would not be proposed upon CSHO verification of employer's compliance with a variance already granted by OSHA; however, violations could be proposed if a variance has not yet been granted. Please see 29 CFR 1905.5, Effect of variances, which states in part: "All variances granted pursuant to this part shall have only future effect." The "de minimus" policy may also apply should an alternate means of protecting employees from exposure to a hazard be provided that is judged to be as protective as the standard.

Favorable consideration is likely to be given by OSHA to a variance, which must provide for equal or greater employee safety and health than otherwise provided by the applicable OSHA standard. For further information on variance procedures, you should contact the Director of Technical Support.