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.

March 28, 1994 [Reviewed November 8, 2018]

MEMORANDUM FOR: ALL REGIONAL ADMINSTRATORS
 
THROUGH: H. BERRIEN ZETTLER, DEPUTY DIRECTOR
DIRECTORATE OF COMPLIANCE PROGRAMS
 
FROM: ROY R. GURNHAM, DIRECTOR
OFFICE OF CONSTRUCTION AND MARITIME COMPLIANCE ASSISTANCE
 
SUBJECT: Safety Procedures During Gunite and Shotcrete Pool Construction

 

This is in response to requests for clarification on the application of Subpart P--Excavations, to swimming pool excavations where the excavation walls are used as the form for the gunite or shotcrete pool walls.

Members of the Office of Construction and Maritime Compliance Assistance, Office of Construction and Engineering, and the Office of Construction and Civil Engineering Safety standards have researched this issue and have determined that compliance with the provisions of Subpart P during the construction of gunite or shotcrete pool walls is not feasible. These offices have concluded that application of 1926.652(a) requiring a protective system to be provided in swimming pool excavations would prevent the performance of the required work.

In instances where it has been established that compliance with a standard is infeasible, it is OSHA's policy to require the employer to use alternative means or methods of avoiding or reducing the hazard. (OSHA Instruction CPL-02-00-160 Chapter 5 Section VI.B.2)* (OSHA Instruction CPL 2.45B CH-3, Chapter V section E.3.b.) Such alternative means and methods for swimming pool excavations include at least the following:

 

  1. An effective thorough safety program is in place,
     
  2. Employees are thoroughly trained in the provisions of the safety plan,
     
  3. All spoil piles are maintained a safe distance away from excavation (equal to or greater distance than depth),
     
  4. Vehicles are kept a safe distance away from excavation (equal to or greater distance than depth)
     
  5. All portions of the excavation which appear to the competent person to pose a hazard of sloughing or cave-in shall be removed or stabilized.
     
  6. A competent person, as defined in 29 CFR 1926.650(b)*, is present at all times while employees are exposed to cave-in hazards, and
     
  7. A protective system must be provided on all nonform excavation walls over 5 feet high.

    A protective system must be provided on all excavations over 5 feet high that are not used as rear forms for pool linings.

    This document was edited on 03/26/2010 to strike information that no longer reflects current OSHA policy.
     

Although compliance with 1926.652(a) has been established as being infeasible to this type of pool construction, all remaining requirements of Part 1926, Subpart P, still apply.

*[This letter has been modified (non-substantive changes) on November 8, 2018, and reflects current OSHA regulations and policies.]