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.
June 30, 1993
J. Nigel Ellis, Ph.D., CSP CEO
Research & Trading Corporation
P. O. Box 445
Wilmington, Delaware 19899
Dear Dr. Ellis:
This is in further response to your letter of November 6, 1992 to Dorothy L. Strunk, former Acting Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA), which was referred to this office for response and to your the letter of May 6, 1993 addressed to Roger A. Clark, inquiring as to the status of your first letter. Please accept our apologies for the delayed response.
You requested that our response reflect that your product, EscapeRite(R) device, meets the OSHA Emergency Action Plan requirements for a controlled descent device, emergency escape route to the ground or lower level. The long standing OSHA policy is to issue neither approval nor endorsement of equipment and/or products.
The documentation sent with your letter of November 6, 1992 included the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approval file number SA4992 (N) and a two page description, with photographs and sketches of the RTC-1003 ESCAPE-Rite(R).
There are no published Underwriters Laboratory, Inc. documents for controlled descent devices used in general industrial applications. The testing parameters for your devices were most likely specifically designed exclusively for this equipment and are recorded only in UL file SA4992 (N). Since there are no documents in the public domain that state minimums and maximums for load testing, failure ratings of component parts, the times the device could be used or reused, flammable and explosive environment use, the distances of the descent, the angles between the top and bottom securing points and the descent line, etc., OSHA has no technical basis for assessing in general or specific terms the safety of your device. The use and applications of these devices are best decided by each employer.
The responsibility for determining the hazards of the workplace and the employee emergency plans and escape routes is designated to the employer by the Occupational Safety and Health Act. When an employer determines that a controlled descent device is to be used as part of an emergency escape route, the information provided by your firm is crucial for the placement and safe use of these devices.
The literature you sent with the November 6, 1992 letter indicates that the use of the "Escape-Rite(R), Angled Escape System", "... is inappropriate because of fire, explosion or other dangers immediately below or in the escape path."
OSHA standards that specifically require an emergency action plan such as 29 CFR 1910.119, "Process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals", 29 CFR 1910.120, "Hazardous waste operation and emergency response", and 29 CFR 1910.272, "Grain handling facilities", are standards where emergency escape could be initiated due to fire or explosion hazards. It would be inappropriate for OSHA to issue a blanket statement that this device meets the intent of the OSHA standards when there are situations where the devices should not be used.
In addition to 1910.35 and 1910.38 as referenced in your November 6 letter, OSHA evaluates compliance with the other sections of Subpart E during an inspection of the workplace. OSHA requires that the exit access be a permanent structural means of egress. The OSHA standard 1910.37(a) states that "... Exit components shall be constructed as an integral part of the building or shall be permanently affixed thereto". 1910.36(b)(3) states "Every building or structure shall be provided with exits of kinds, numbers, location and capacity appropriate to the individual building or structure,..." and (b)(8) states there shall "...be two means of egress remote from each other, so arranged as to minimize any possibility that both may be blocked by any one fire or other emergency conditions".
We hope this information will resolve many of your questions.
Raymond E. Donnelly, Director
Office of General
Industry Compliance Assistance