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.

March 25, 1992

Mr. James W. Pittenger
Northern Graphics
8435 Loop Road
Baldwinsville, New York 13027

Dear Mr. Pittenger:

Mr. James J. Concannon, Director of the Office of Variance Determination, forwarded your letter of July 3, 1991 concerning the 36 inch "Seybolt Cutter", for an evaluation by this office. Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding.

The "Seybolt Cutter" described by your letter is subject to the machine guarding requirements of 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(1) and (a)(3)(ii), copy enclosed. Under that standard, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) refers to applicable industry consensus standards such as those published by the American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI) for guidance as to what the industry practice is for safeguarding such machines. Although OSHA is not limited to those findings, the information presented by the consensus standards weighs strongly upon the final determinations.

The applicable ANSI safety standard for powered shears is, ANSI B11.4-1983, Safety Requirements for Construction, Care, and Use of Shears. That standard, at Sections and E5.1.3, cautions that two-hand controls do not offer the measure of protection given by a guard. It further notes that fixed guards, awareness barriers, or devices can be used to safeguard the point of operation of shears. The consensus standard advises that due to the nature of the shearing operation, it is advisable to install additional safeguarding when two-hand controls are used on part-revolution shears. On full revolution shears, the use of guards are required.

OSHA recognizes that under the requirements of the 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(3)(ii), the "appropriate standards therefor," are the requirements set forth by ANSI B11.4. The use of only two-hand controls as point of operation safeguards on powered shears is not considered as providing sufficient operator safety. OSHA believes that the additional fixed barriers or awareness barriers are necessary for the safety of the operator and for compliance with the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(3)(ii). Furthermore, if there is potential exposure to the rear of the shear, to employees other than the operator, it too must be safeguarded as set forth by the ANSI B11.4, Section 5.2.

The ANSI standard, ANSI B11.4, may be obtained from:

The American National Standard Institute, Inc. 1430 Broadway New York, New York 10018 Telephone No. 212-354-3300

If we may be of further assistance, please contact us.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs