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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

October 13, 1995





This is in response to your letter of June 6, 1995 regarding the permanent variance application by Stamco Industries. Stamco is requesting to be permitted to deviate from the requirement of paragraph (b)(14)(iii) of 29 CFR 1910.217. This is their second variance application relative to this issue. Currently, as part of a settlement agreement, Stamco is utilizing the procedure for which they have applied for a variance to permanently implement.

Sufficient information, which will enable us to determine whether compliance with the alternative procedure provides protection which is equivalent to that provided by compliance with the standard, has not been provided. Therefore, it is our recommendation that the variance not be further processed until the applicant provides the requested additional specific information. The applicant should be advised that they must provide information regarding the following issues:

1. Have any other studies been performed on the safety and/or effectiveness of their proposed procedure, other than their own very limited in-house study? An appropriate study would be one that takes into account factors relative to fail-safe operation and human error and which is not just based on their operation. In the absence of the requested information, the subject study lends little or no value to OSHA for the purpose of evaluating the variance. Relying on that study would be akin to determining whether the point-of-operation of a mechanical power press has to be guarded on the basis of whether there have been any injuries.

2. Has there been a formal request for an interpretation from the ANSI B11.1 committee, rather than an individual member of the B11.1 ANSI committee, relative to the proposed practice? Has the ANSI B11.1 committee been asked to confirm claims such as the one made in the variance application indicating that the proposed procedure conforms to the requirements of ANSI B11.1-1988? If so, what was the response? We need documentation (from ANSI) to fully support the following claims:



a. On page 4 of the Stamco Permanent Variance Application, Stamco claimed that the proposed procedure meets all the requirements of ANSI B11.1-1988; and

b. On page 2 of Attachment B to the variance request, a claim made by a Mr. James Meehan was that the proposed mode of operation complies with paragraph 4.11(3) of ANSI B11.1-1988.

3. Have the manufacturers of the mechanical power presses on which Stamco wishes to use the alternative procedure been contacted regarding the proposed practice? Have any other mechanical power press manufacturers been contacted? If so, what was the response?

4. Have any manufacturers of brake monitors been contacted relative to the proposed practice? If so, what was their response?

5. Are any other employers in the United States engaged in the proposed practice? Are any employers in other countries engaged in the proposed practice? If so, what has been their experience? In order to further consider this variance application, it is critical that all of the above requests for information are satisfied by the applicant.

Paragraph (b)(14)(iii) of 1910.217 requires that a brake monitoring system monitor brake performance on every stroke of certain mechanical power presses. A brake system is required to be capable of preventing the slide from descending accidentally, while an employee has his or her hands-in-the-die. The type of press for which brake monitoring is required is a part revolution mechanical power press with hands-in-the-die feeding and/or removing of parts and which has the point of operation guarded by a presence sensing device or a two-hand control.

Stamco is requesting to operate part revolution mechanical power presses, on which brake monitoring is required, in a continuous run mode. The presses are guarded by a light curtain, which is muted on the upstroke, and employees place their hands-in-the-die. The presses are equipped with a brake monitoring system. While, as Stamco points out, there is not a specific prohibition in the standards which forbids running such a press in a continuous run mode, the requirements of paragraph (b)(14)(iii) nonetheless effectively prohibits the practice. This is because when a press is run in a continuous run mode, the slide is not stopped after every stroke. Therefore, it is impossible to check the brake system performance on every stroke and that is a violation of 1910.217(b)(14)(iii).

While there is no question that wear on the brake mechanism is dramatically reduced, Stamco still does not provide adequate documentation relative to the core requirement for approval of a variance. None of the information which has been submitted adequately demonstrates that the procedure Stamco wishes to continue to implement provides protection that is at least equivalent to that afforded by compliance with the Standard.

It is imperative that the additional requested information in this memorandum is provided to fully support Stamco's position (e.g., the procedure Stamco will continue to implement provides protection at least equivalent to the protection afforded by compliance with the Standard). In the absence of this information, a recommendation for the approval of the variance could not be envisioned.