Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

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

September 11, 1995

Mr. Frank Goldenberg
Commercial Steel Erection, Inc.
288 Ragland Road
P.O. Box 1030
Madison Heights, Virginia 24572

Dear Mr. Goldenberg:

This is in response to your letter of March 28 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in which you asked us to review a draft fall protection plan written in accordance with 29 CFR 1926.502(k).

It appears that you may have a misunderstanding with respect to the applicability of the Subpart M Fall Protection Standards - and, in particular, the fall protection plan provision at 1926.502(k) - to steel erection activities. The scope and application provision at 1926.500(a)(2)(iii) states that the requirements for fall protection for employees performing steel erection work in buildings are those in Subpart R. In a recent Federal Register notice [
August 2, 1995 FR 60:39254-39255], the agency clarified which activities will be considered to be steel erection activities regulated by Subparts E and R rather than Subpart M. I am also enclosing a copy of the compliance directives [Deputy Assistant Secretary Stanley's July 10, 1995 memorandum] referenced in the Federal Register notice. As you will note, steel erectors are subject to citation anytime the fall distance exceeds twenty-five feet, except the fall distance can be up to thirty feet to the interior of tiered buildings which have floors or are adaptable to temporary floors. The majority of activities addressed in your draft plan are the steel erection activities to which Subpart E and R apply. Neither Subpart E nor Subpart R makes provision for a fall protection plan. Situations arising in steel erection in which it is alleged that compliance with a requirement is infeasible or would result in the creation of a greater hazard will continue to be governed by the principles established in the case law regarding the affirmative defenses of impossibility and greater hazards. Many of the considerations which you address in the draft plan would be relevant to these defenses.

If you have any questions, please [contact the Directorate of Construction at 202 693-2020].


Roy F. Gurnham, P.E., J.D., Director
[Directorate of Construction]

[Correction 6/20/2005. See OSHA Directive CPL 02-01-034 "
Inspection policy and procedures for OSHA's steel erection standards for construction" published on 3/22/2002 for the current policy on OSHA's steel erection standards (1926 Subpart R) for construction.]