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.

August 17, 1994

Mr. James W. O'Boyle, C.S.P., P.E. Dover Elevator Company 191 Latgrop Way, Suite N Sacramento, CA 95815-4216

Dear Mr. O'Boyle:

Your January 31 letter requesting an interpretation of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) standard addressing the materials used for constructing guardrails has been forwarded to the Office of Construction and Maritime Compliance Assistance for response. I apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiry.

OSHA's standards do not prohibit the use of wire rope or metal dry wall studs for the construction of guardrails at construction sites. If guardrails made with these materials meet the required criteria such as strength, deflection and smooth surface, OSHA will accept them.

We share your concern, however, that guardrails made of these materials are difficult to maintain or replace in effective condition. Let me assure you that OSHA is focusing its attention on fall hazards and will issue citations for ineffective guardrails to all responsible employers according to our multi-employer worksite citation policy. I have enclosed a copy of OSHA's multi-employer worksite policy for your reference.

If we can be of any further assistance please contact me (ext 150) or Dale Cavanuagh (ext 149) of my staff at (202) 219-8136.


Roy F. Gurnham, P.E., J.D. Director Office of Construction and Maritime Compliance Assistance


January 31, 1994

Mr. Joe Dear Assistant Secretary of Labor United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration 200 Constitution Avenue Washington, D.C. 20210

Re: Subpart M-Floor and Wall Openings (Rule 1926.500)

Dear Mr. Dear:

As a Safety Professional in the Construction field, I am concerned with the safety of all persons on a jobsite as well as my own employees. There is a problem that is not only ongoing but appears to be escalating in the protection of floor and wall openings by the use of wire rope barricades and the use of metal dry wall studs for barricade material.

This problem is seen on a nationwide basis and when we as a subcontractor make an objection to the use of these materials for barricades on elevator hoistways, we get the standard answer that they are approved by OSHA. In reviewing the variances and the interpretations issued by OSHA, I have not been able to find any that address this condition.

The use of wire rope for barricades is in my opinion a hazard as once they have been removed to gain access to an area, they are never pulled taut again and thereby become a tripping hazard. These wire rope barricades usually have a span over 8 feet and they do not normally have a toeboard on them. Wire rope in my opinion is not smooth which is one requirement of the OSHA regulations. I can understand the use of wire rope for perimeter protection on buildings because, no one has to enter thru them and they are usually left as installed.

The other area in which there has been an increasing problem is the use of lightweight metal dry wall studs for barricades. These studs may be rigid when they are first put up but, if there is the slightest bend or crease in them, they quickly lose that rigidity. They do not by any means meet the deflection requirements of the rule and although they are smooth on the top, they have very sharp edges which could inflict a serious laceration to personnel who would handle them to remove or replace them. Once again, when a complaint is required with the controlling contractor, we are told that they are OSHA approved.

I would like a formal interpretation as to whether or not these two materials are acceptable to OSHA for barricading of floor and wall openings, especially in view of the fact that they must be removed and replaced in order to work inside the barricaded area. Your help in this matter would certainly be appreciated not only by myself but also my colleagues who are confronted with the same problems on a regular basis.


James W. O'Boyle, C.S.P., P.E.