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.

March 21, 1997

Mr. Sante Camo
Project Manager
Weidlinger Associates, Inc.
Consulting Engineers
333 Seventh Avenue
New York, New York 10001

Dear Mr. Camo:

This is in response to your letter of February 12, concerning the use of a fall protection enclosure in lieu of personal fall arrest systems, and the need for a rescue skiff when employees are working over or adjacent to water.

The use of a fully enclosed structural work platform would appear to prevent employees from falling off the work platform and into the water provided the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.502 are met with regard to the guardrails. Such an enclosure would be acceptable in lieu of the use of personal fall arrest systems (i.e. body harnesses). However, it is not clear from the drawings submitted how an employee would be protected from falling or sliding down and out the end of the enclosure, and then down to the water. Some means of protection would be necessary across the downside end of the enclosure before the intent of the requirement is fully met.

The intent of paragraph 1926.106(d) is to ensure prompt rescue of employees that fall into the water. Where an employee is working over or adjacent to water, regardless of other precautions that are taken to prevent employees from falling, OSHA requires that employers supply the appropriate means necessary, such as a skiff, to effect a prompt water rescue. I am enclosing a copy of a letter of interpretation which spells out the Agency's criteria for determining when a lifesaving skiff is considered to be "immediately available".

If you have any further questions, please contact: The Office of Construction Standards and Compliance Assistance, U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room N3621, Washington, D.C. 20210.


Roy F. Gurnham, Manager
Office of Construction Standards
and Compliance Assistance