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.

January 22, 1996

Regina CB Solomon
National Association of Home Builders
1201 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005-2800

Dear Ms. Solomon:

This is in response to your telefax of November 29, 1995 in which you request a clarification of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) position on the requirements for fall protection around residential basement foundation excavations deeper than six feet.

Please be advised that paragraph .501(b)(7) requires fall protection around excavations only when the excavations are not readily seen because of plant growth or other visual barrier. The typical house foundation excavation is not obscured from view and, therefore, OSHA does not require fall protection to be provided for employees working near such excavations.

If you require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact either myself or Mr. Dale Cavanaugh of my staff at (202) 219-8136.


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

November 29, 1995

Bruce Swanson
Office of Construction and Engineering
Room N-
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
200 Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, DCv

Dear Bruce:

With all the confusion about the application of the fall protection regulation, I wanted to clarify the Agency's position on the requirements of protective systems around residential basement foundations deeper than six feet. To confirm previous conversations with your staff, OSHA does not require any protective systems against fall hazards for employees working around residential basement foundations. OSHA only requires that excavations be guarded if they are remotely located or the fall hazard is obstructed from view.

I appreciate your prompt response to this issue.


Regina CB Solomon