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 http://www.osha.gov.

April 2, 1997

Lawrence A. DeWitt
Corporate Safety and Health Program Supervisor
Corning Incorporated
HP-ME-03-56
Corning, New York 14831

Dear Mr. DeWitt:

This is in further response to your letter of December 3, to John Miles, Director of Compliance Programs, regarding clarification of two safety concerns. One is rung spacing on fixed industrial ladders, and the other is personal protective equipment (PPE) in powered industrial vehicle battery charging and changing rooms.

As you know, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard for rung spacing on fixed industrial ladders is 29 CFR 1910.27. You ask if there is a minimum or maximum distance specified for the distance to the first rung from the platform, ground or concrete slat at the base of the ladder? The OSHA standard does not specify a minimum or maximum; however, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) does have specifications for the vertical spacing of the first rung for fixed ladders in their ANSI A14.3-1992 at 5. 1.1 (copy enclosed). This ANSI specification would be a good guideline for employers to follow, although OSHA has not adopted it through rulemaking. If, however, the distance for the first rung in a particular situation were to create a serious hazard for workers, the ANSI specifications could be used as evidence supporting the issuance of a citation based on OSHA's general duty clause (Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act).

In your letter you describe a change in your PPE requirements based on a change in your battery changing operation, and ask if it meets the intent and requirements of the OSHA standards. The OSHA standards for PPE are in 29 CFR Subpart I (§1910.132 through .138). Section 1910.132(d) requires employers to select PPE for their employees based on an assessment of the hazards in the workplace and the hazards the employees are likely to encounter, and §1910.133 addresses eye and face protection.

If you have performed a revised hazard assessment and documented it in accordance with §1910.132(d), and this revised assessment indicates that the face shield and apron are no longer necessary because of the use of the acid-resistant mat, then your PPE requirements should be in compliance, although such a determination can only be made by a compliance officer inspecting on-site.

Section 1910.132(d) requires the employer to verify that the required workplace hazard assessment has been performed through a written certification that identifies the workplace evaluated; the person certifying that the evaluation has been performed; and the date(s) of the hazard assessment. In addition to the above standard, the non-mandatory Appendix B contains an example of procedures that would comply with the requirement for a hazard assessment and the selection of PPE.

Also, enclosed is a copy of OSHA field directive, OSHA Instruction STD 1-6.6, which was issued on June 16, 1995 that discusses in some detail the revised personal protective equipment standards for general industry. This directive gives detailed information on how to comply with the standard, including §1910.132(d) and §1910.133.

If you have any questions, please contact Helen Hoban Rogers at (202) 219-8031 x 121.

Sincerely,

Raymond E. Donnelly, Director
Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance