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 http://www.osha.gov.

April 19, 1993

Mr. Bob Masterson
Manager of Safety and Loss Control
Ryland Building Company
11000 Broken Land Parkway
Columbia, Maryland 21044-3562

Dear Mr. Masterson:

This is in response to your November 20 letter requesting comments on your proposals for compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard that addresses portable firefighting equipment (29 CFR 1926.150(c)), and a determination of whether or not a 1 1/2-inch high bottom plate on a studded wall meets the intent of the toeboard requirement for falling object protection. I apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiries.

With regard to your proposal concerning the placement of fire extinguishers, please be advised that the provisions at 29 CFR 1926.150 are oriented towards large structures where a fire in one part or level of a building could trap employees in another part who are unaware of the hazard and egress is difficult. In such situations, sufficient fire fighting equipment is necessary to fight the fire. In smaller structures, such as houses under 3000 square feet, the awareness factor and escape factor are different. In such situations, the equipment is necessary to help employees quickly eliminate a small fire and to help them escape. The fire equipment is not required by OSHA in order to save the house. Consequently, an extinguisher located in a truck and not in the house does not satisfy OSHA's concerns. If employees can get to the truck, they are safe and there is no need to reenter the burning house. However, in small buildings under 3000 square feet in size when activities do not present fire hazards (e.g. welding, cutting, open flame heaters), OSHA would consider one fire extinguisher, centrally located within 100 feet of all crews, to be a "de minimis" violation of paragraph 1926.150. A "de minimis" violation is one that has no direct or immediate relationship to employee safety and health. Of course, the extinguisher does not have to be in the house when no employees are in the house.

With regard to whether a 1 1/2-inch high bottom plate would meet the intent of OSHA's existing toeboard requirements, please be advised that it would not. However, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Subpart M -- Fall Protection, issued November 25, 1986 (51 FR 42718), recognizes in paragraph .501(e), copy enclosed, that toeboards would not be required if the potential fall objects are placed away from the edge of the floor adistance sufficient to prevent them from going over the edge should they be accidentally displaced such as by kicking. This proposed paragraph has not yet become final, but compliance with this proposed paragraph in the situation you describe would be considered by OSHA to be a "de minimis" violation of existing paragraph 29 CFR 1926.500(c)(1)(ii).

If we can be of any further assistance, please contact me or Mr. Dale Cavanaugh of my staff at (202) 219-8136.

Sincerely,



Roy Gurnham, P.E., Esq.
Director
Office of Construction and Maritime
Compliance Assistance

Enclosure



November 20, 1992

Roy F. Gurnham
Director
Office of Construction and
Maritime Compliance Assistance
US Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health
Administration
200 Constitution Avenue
Room N 3610
Washington, DC. 20210

Bob Masterson
Manager of Safety and Loss Control
Ryland Building Company
11000 Broken Land Parkway
Columbia, Maryland 21044-3562

Mr. Gurnham,

We have been struggling with the requirements of 1926.150(c). We build 1, 2 & 3 story single family homes, townhomes and condo's on several hundred construction sites. During construction we are required to provide fire protection equipment at each building and/or on each floor of the building. We understand and support the need for this protection. We have also found it almost impossible to maintain this equipment in a fashion that would meet the intent of the standards. As fast as we install equipment it's gone. We would like to try a different approach for providing this protection. That would be:

* Require all contractors on our job sites to provide each of their crews with a fire extinguisher suitable for the type of work they would be involved with; and

* Require all our field personnel to carry fire extinguishers on their trucks and;

* Maintain a suitable fire extinguisher in every construction trailer.

In this manner all workers on the job would:

* Have access to the necessary protective equipment.

* Know where that equipment was located.

* Have the proper type of equipment for the type of work they would be involved with.

Most importantly the equipment would be there if it were needed. The requirement to have this equipment in each building won't help anyone id its not there when its needed. We would be interested in any comments you may have on this matter. Thank you for taking the time to read and answer this letter.



November 20, 1992

Roy F. Gurnham
Director
Office of Construction and
Maritime Compliance Assistance
US Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health
Administration
200 Constitution Avenue
Room N 3610
Washington, DC. 20210

Bob Masterson
Manager of Safety and Loss Control
Ryland Building Company
11000 Broken Land Parkway
Columbia, Maryland 21044-3562

Mr. Gurnham,

We manufacture, build and sell single family homes in 16 states. As a builder of panelized homes covering a broad geographic area, we must maintain systems that will insure the quality and consistency of our homes, as well as meet building and safety requirements.

Over the last 25 years we have been able to incorporate more features into the panels at the plant, while reducing field work, and improving the quality and consistency of the homes delivered to our customer. We feel that this is also true when it comes to safety systems.

If we can install protective systems in the plant, there is less chance of an employee being injured before temporary systems can be installed in the field. With this in mind, we started looking at plant installed systems. We are investigating the redesign of second floor walls that would abut an open foyer. If we were to place the studs in these walls on 16 inch centers, we would no longer have a "wall opening" and the possibility of an employee being exposed to a fall hazard would be removed. We feel that the 1 1/2 inch high bottom plate would meet the intent of the toe board requirement and would be adequate protection for employees that may enter the foyer. We would like your comments on whether you feel this alternative would meet the intent of the toe board requirement.