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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.
April 15, 1994
Mr. Roger Dargie
Safe Approach Inc.
P.O. Box 1473
Auburn, Maine 04211
Dear Mr. Dargie:
This is in response to your February 7 letter requesting Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) acceptance of the Hatch Net 120 fall protection system. I apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiry.
As you know, OSHA neither approves nor endorses products. The variable working conditions at jobsites and possible alterations, misuse, or misapplication of an otherwise safe product could easily create a hazardous condition beyond the control of the manufacturer. However, this office and the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance (GICA) have reviewed the product data enclosed with your letter and it appears that if the Hatch Net 120 fall protection system is used as intended, it would provide an effective means for preventing falls through open hatches.
Current OSHA standards addressing hatch openings require the use of guardrail systems, covers, or monitors. Your product, if used in addition to the required protection, would afford valuable additional safeguarding at hatch openings and would improve employee protection. In addition, it appears that your product would provide acceptable alternative fall protection for hatch openings when the protection required by the standards is not feasible.
Specific requirements for nets used as fall protection systems have been proposed for both general industry and construction work areas (copies enclosed). Nets meeting these proposed rules will be deemed in compliance with OSHA's safety net standards.
If we can be of any further assistance, please contact me or Mr. Dale Cavanaugh of my staff at (202) 219-8136, or Mr. Rollie Stroup of the GICA staff at (202) 219-8031.
Roy F. Gurnham, P.E., J.D.
Office of Construction and Maritime
February 7, 1994
Roy F. Gurnham, P.E.,J.D.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Washington, D.C. 20210
Dear Mr. Gurnham:
I would like to thank you for meeting with us last week. I very much enjoyed our visit, and feel that much was accomplished.
Per your request, I have enclosed a "draft letter" regarding our fall protection net system. So you are aware, all information that we have put in this draft has been taken, in total, from various correspondence that we have received from OSHA offices in New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington (they are available if you desire) If you have any problem with the content please let me know.
You made mention that someone in the General Industry Standards Division still felt that a railing was a better safeguard than our hatch net system. Could you suggest who we may contact, or what avenue we might take to attempt to change this persons mind? Possibly a meeting with someone from the GISD would be helpful. Whatever you think would be in our best interest, we would be willing to do.
Also, could you advise what steps need to be taken by us, or others in the industry, to approve the hatch net system as an alternative to a railing or monitor? It would appear to us that our net system far exceeds the protection provided by certain rail installations, and is far superior when a railing is just not feasible. Are their particular steps that need to be followed to petition OSHA to include a net system such as ours as an acceptable alternative?
I look forward to hearing from you soon. Again I would like to sincerely thank you for taking the time to assist us with our endeavors.
Roger Dargie, President
Safe Approach Inc.