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.

April 20, 1994

Mr. Stephen H. Daniels
Thompson, Hine and Flory
1100 National City Bank Building
629 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

Representing: Stamco Industries, Inc.

Dear Mr. Daniels:

This letter is in reference to Stamco Industries, Inc. request for a permanent variance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mechanical power press brake system monitoring requirements [29 CFR 1910.217(b)(14)(iii)]. An evaluation or your request shows that Stamco has not provided an alternative as effective as the brake monitoring requirements of the above standard. Therefore, no further action will be taken on Stamco's variance request.

Paragraph (b)(14)(i) of the above standard states that a brake monitoring system is installed to ".... prevent the activation of a successive stroke if the stopping time or braking distance deteriorate to a point where the safety distance being utilized does not meet the [safe distance] requirements set forth in paragraph (c)(3)(iii)(e) or (c)(3)(vii)(c) of this section." Brake monitors are specifically required under paragraphs (c)(5) and (c)(5)(i) of this standard, which state that where the operator feeds or removes parts by placing one or both hands in the point of operation and a presence sensing device is used for safeguarding, the employer shall use a control system and a brake monitor which shall comply with (b)(13) and (14) of this section. The purpose of the standard is to ensure that the brake is operable and able to stop press operations.

Although Stamco has implemented reliability improvements that may indeed reduce exposure to unsafe press operations, OSHA does not consider these improvements as providing an alternative to brake monitoring that would terminate press operations should brake function deteriorate. If you have any questions concerning our decisions on your variance request, please contact Juanita Jones or Hank Woodcock in the Office of Variance Determination at (202) 219-7193.


Stephen J. Mallinger
Acting Director
Directorate of Technical Support