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.

May 19, 1997

Mr. Fred H. Codding
National Association of
Reinforcing Steel Contractors
10382 Main Street
P.O. Box 280
Fairfax, VA 22030


Mr. Stephen D. Cooper
Executive Director
International Association of Bridge, Structural
and Ornamental Iron Workers
1750 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20006

Dear Messrs. Codding and Cooper:

This is in response to your letters of July 18, and August 5, 1996, in which you requested an interpretation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) policy regarding fall protection for employees climbing or moving on preassembled reinforcing steel assemblies.

Through the promulgation of the existing standard, section §1926.501(b)(5), OSHA clearly indicates that Subpart M applies to construction work performed on vertical surfaces, such as rebar structures. In response to your December 1994 presentation of information, the Agency issued a letter acknowledging that fall protection is not necessary for employees climbing or moving on built-in-place rebar assemblies at heights below 24 feet.

OSHA has completed its review of the materials submitted regarding the pre-assembled rebar assemblies. Those submissions have raised issues which indicate that the Agency should reevaluate section §1926.501(b)(5) to ensure that the standard addresses appropriate fall protection for employees working on pre-assembled rebar assemblies.

OSHA will soon be initiating further rulemaking on Subpart M and will raise an issue regarding fall protection for employees performing construction work on either built-in-place or pre-assembled rebar assemblies. The Agency will seek additional information regarding safe industry practice, including any experience in using fall protection systems or alternative measures on rebar assemblies. The requirements of section §1926.501(b)(5) will be based on the record produced through this rulemaking.

Pending the completion of supplemental rulemaking, OSHA will not cite violations of section §1926.501(b)(5) for employees climbing or moving on rebar assemblies. In lieu of complying with section §1926.501(b)(5), the Agency will allow the construction industry to continue current practices for work on rebar assemblies.

Employers are still required to protect employees working on rebar assemblies from fall hazards [as provided in section §1926.501(b)(5)] once those employees have reached their work stations or have moved to points at least 24 feet above a lower level.

We look forward to your participation in the future rulemaking on the rebar topic and, as always, thank you for your interest in the safety of the construction workers of America. If we can be of any further assistance, please contact us by writing to 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.


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction