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 10, 1993

Mr. John T. Kennedy
Warner, Fox, Seeley, Dungey, Sweet & Kennedy
1100 S. Federal Highway
P.O. Drawer 6
Stuart, Florida 34995-0006

Dear Mr. Kennedy:

This is in response to your letter of June 28 requesting an interpretation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards addressing head protection. I apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiry.

With regard to whether employees working on scaffolds with nothing above them are required to wear protective helmets, please be advised that whether or not head protection is needed depends on the specific circumstances at the construction site. A hardhat may not be necessary while working on the top level of a scaffold where there is no danger of injury from falling objects and the nature of the work does not introduce additional hazards. A hardhat is necessary for protection from impact-type head injuries when material is being handled at head level, when the employee is bending or leaning between scaffold members, to protect against injury or slips and falls, or during travel around the construction site where any number of potentially hazardous situations exist. It is for this reason that OSHA recommends hard hats be worn at all times on a construction site. With regard to whether the protective helmet requirement is intended to address injuries that result from a fall off a scaffold, please be advised that the term "head injury from impact" does not pertain to impact with the ground as a result of a fall from elevation.

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


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

June 28, 1993

Mr. Roy F. Gurnham
Director of Office of Construction/Maritime
Compliance Assistance
200 Constitution Avenue N.W. Room N-3610
Washington, D.C. 20210

Re: Interpretation of OSHA Standard 1926.100 (Head Protection)

Dear Mr. Gurnham:

Section 1926.100 of the OSHA Standards Section A provides:

"Employees working on areas where there is a possible danger of head injury from impact or from falling or flying objects, or from electrical shock and burns, shall be protected by protective helmet."

Does this OSHA Standard or any other OSHA Standard require a stucco plasterer when working from scaffolding on a two-story residential home where there is no danger of injury from falling or flying objects, to wear a protective helmet or hardhat under these circumstances? Does the term "head injury from impact" in the above section pertain to an injury incurred when the individual falls from the scaffolding and comes in contact with the ground?

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Very truly yours,

John T. Kennedy