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.

January 26, 1994

Charan Singh Kalsi
Secretary & Public Relation Officer
Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Inc.
541 Prospect Street
Glen Rock, New Jersey 07452

Dear Charan Singh Kalsi:

This is in further response to your letter of November 18, 1993, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in which you requested information regarding the exemption from wearing hard hats.

On January 31, 1978, OSHA Program Directive #100-80 (copy enclosed), which was later redesignated OSHA Instruction STD 1-6.3, Exemption from Wearing Hard Hats, Old Order Amish and Sikh Dharma Brotherhood (copy enclosed), was issued. This document superseded Field Information Memorandum #75-11.

On November 5, 1990, OSHA Notice CPL 2, Cancellation of an OSHA Instruction (copy enclosed), was issued which canceled OSHA Instruction STD 1-6.3. This notice was issued based on advice from the Department's Office of the Solicitor following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Employment Division, Department of Human Resources v. Smith, 110 S. Ct. 1595 (1990), (the "peyote case") which held the "Free Exercise Clause" of the First Amendment does not relieve any individual of the obligation to comply with a neutral, generally applicable regulatory law, not-withstanding the dictates of the individual's religious practice.

On July 24, 1991, a memorandum for All Regional Administrators from Patricia K. Clark, Director of the Directorate of Compliance Programs (copy enclosed), was issued that withdrew the above November 5, 1990, notice. This memorandum reinstated OSHA's policy concerning the exemption from wearing hard hats, but broadened it to include any person who for religious reasons objected to wearing hard hats in the workplace.

A new directive on this subject has not yet been issued. The issuance has been held in abeyance pending the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, Public Law 103-141 (copy enclosed). The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into law by President Clinton on November 16. OSHA is currently in the process of finalizing its policy on this subject. [The new directive is STD 1-6.5, Exemption for Religious Reason from Wearing Hard Hats.]

[This document was edited on 10/19/99 to strike information that no longer reflects current OSHA policy.]


Roger A. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs