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.

September 18, 1995

                   Acting Director
                   Directorate of Technical Support

FROM:               JOHN MILES
                   Directorate of Compliance

SUBJECT:            Comments on Variance Application Number 2293: VARIANCE
                   REQUEST FROM 1910.179(n)(3)(vi), 1910.180(h)(3)(vi), 
                   and 1910.180(h)(4)(ii)

This memorandum is in response to your request for assistance in evaluating a variance request for Lockheed Martin Astro Space.

Practices that the employer wishes to implement do not provide the same degree of protection as does compliance with the referenced OSHA standards. Therefore, the application should be denied. However, Lockheed Martin should be advised that if they can demonstrate that it is truly infeasible to perform the lifting task, without having employees under the load, the Office Of General Industry Compliance Assistance (GICA) will work with them to develop work practices which will reduce the potential for injury as much as is feasible. The proposals contained in the variance application will be a good starting point in the development of such practices.

The variance application proposes that employees be under suspended loads under certain specific conditions. The applicable OSHA standards require that employees be kept clear of suspended loads, or that the employer shall require that the operator avoid carrying loads over people.

Paragraph (a)(4) of 29 CFR 1905.11 contains the requirement relevant to the preceding comments. It requires that the applicant provide:

"A statement showing how the conditions, practices, means, methods, operations, or processes used or proposed to be used would provide employment and places of employment to employees which are as safe and healthful as those required by the standard from which a variance is sought."

Also, please note that if a sling is used in the lifting of the spacecraft, paragraph (c)(9) of 29 CFR 1910.184 is also applicable to the lifting operation. (A sling is defined as being an assembly which connects the load to the material handling equipment.) That paragraph requires that employees be kept clear of suspended loads. If a sling is used the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.184 should also be considered when making the determination concerning the alternative practices the employer wants to implement.