Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

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

September 23, 1993

Ms. Suey Howe Director,
Federal Regulations
Associated Builders and
Contractors, Inc.
1300 North 17th, 8th Floor
Rosslyn, VA 22204

Dear Ms. Howe:

This is in response to your April 8 letter requesting an interpretation on the scope of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) confined space standard for general industry. I apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiry.

OSHA's enforcement policy with regard to confined spaces at construction sites has not changed with the promulgation of the general industry regulation. In those instances where a hazard is addressed by an existing part 1926 standard, OSHA will continue to cite the specific standard. In those cases where a hazard is observed that is not addressed by an existing specific construction standard but is addressed in the American National Standards Institute's Z117.1 consensus standard, OSHA will continue to cite under 5(a)(1) of the Act provided the conditions for citing the general duty clause are present. However, in no circumstance would it be appropriate to cite a construction contractor under 1926.21 or 1926.651 for failure to comply with the requirements of the new general industry rule.

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


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