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.

July 24, 1992

Howard I. Edelson, CSP, CHCM
Safety Consultant
30 Coronet Lane
Plainview, New York 11803

Dear Mr. Edelson:

Your July 1 letter to Dorothy Strunk, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requesting the Agency's current fall protection policy for workers engaged in steel erection, was referred to the Office of Construction and Maritime Compliance Assistance for response.

As a result of Review Commission decisions, OSHA has no specific fall protection provisions, other than 29 CFR 1926.105(a), outside Subpart R that apply to steel erection connection related activities. Consequently, the general duty clause (section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970) is the appropriate provision to be cited for steel erection fall hazards where the fall distance is less than 25 feet.

Section 5(a)(1) of the Act requires that "Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees." Review Commission and court precedent has established that four elements are necessary to prove a violation of the general duty clause. The elements are, (1) The employer failed to keep the workplace free of a hazard to which employees of that employer were exposed; (2) The hazard was recognized; (3) The hazard was causing or was likely to cause death or serious physical harm; and (4) There was a feasible and useful method to correct the hazard. If all of these elements are present at a work cite, the employer would be in violation of 5(a)(1) of the Act and a citation could be issued.

If we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Roy F. Gurnham or Mr. Dale R. Cavanaugh of my staff in the Office of Construction and Maritime Compliance assistance at (202) 523-8136.


Patricia K. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs