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.

October 15, 1993

Mr. James H. Johnson
New Dimensions in Training
1293-B North 18th Street
Springfield, Oregon 97477

Dear Mr. Johnson:

Thank you for your letter of April 27, in which you requested a written interpretation as to who is required to wear the body harnesses and retrieval lines referenced in paragraph 29 CFR 1910.146(k)(3).

Paragraph 29 CFR 1910.146(k)(3) focuses on non-entry rescue of authorized entrants. To facilitate non-entry rescue, a retrieval system must be in place. The paragraph specifically requires except as explained below, that "retrieval systems or methods shall be used whenever an authorized entrant enters a permit space". Thus OSHA will expect all authorized entrants to wear retrieval devices until it is determined by the employer that a retrieval system presents a greater hazard to the entrant for the space to be entered.

There may be circumstances where using the retrieval equipment may pose a greater risk to the entrants than not using it, or the equipment would not contribute to rescue. In those situations, where a greater hazard exists, the employer may opt not to employ non-entry rescue procedures. Your attention is directed to the preamble of 29 CFR 1910.146 (pg. 4530-4531) where there is discussion on how the agency will evaluate an employer's determination whether or not a retrieval system would contribute to a rescue without increasing the overall risk of entry.

The State of Oregon will be provided a copy of this letter through our Directorate of Federal-State Operations.

If you have any further questions concerning this interpretation please contact [the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-1850].


Roger A. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs