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.

November 19, 1992

SUBJECT: Point of Operation Guards, Rotary Knife used in Poultry Processing

This is in response to your memorandum of October 24, 1991 and several telephone conversations between members of our staffs since then, regarding compliance policy on unguarded rotary knives used in poultry processing industries. Currently, some Area Offices are citing 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(3)(ii) to address the unguarded knives. Based on our current knowledge, it appears that an "effective" guard still has not been developed for the point of operation of such knives.

We consulted with three safety and health professionals knowledgeable in this area, reviewed available related documents, and viewed videotapes of poultry cutting operations from two poultry plants. From these activities, we determined that the "flapper" guard device does not enhance the safety of employees and is seldom used as a point of operation guard for rotary knifes used to cut poultry. OSHA will adhere to a policy of not citing 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(3)(ii), Point of operation guarding, or any part of 1910.212 when there is no front "flapper" portion of the guard on the cutting machine. Citations shall be issued only when the upper and side portions of rotary knives are not guarded by a fixed barrier guard to prevent accidental employee contact with the blades.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact James C. Dillard, of my staff, at (202) 219-8031.