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.

September 23, 1999

Janice C. Bradley
Technical Director
The Safety Equipment Association
1901 North Moore Street,
Arlington, Virginia 22209-1762

Re: 1926.500(b); 1926.502(d)(16); 1910.66

Dear Ms. Bradley:

This is in response to your letter dated April 1, 1999 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You ask if a "body harness," as that term is used in both 29 CFR 1926.500(b) (subpart M, Safety Standards for Fall Protection in the Construction Industry), and §1910.66 (subpart F, Powered Platforms, Manlifts, and Vehicle-Mounted Work Platforms), requires the use of waistbelts.

Both standards define the term body harness to mean "straps which may be secured about the employee in a manner that will distribute the fall arrest forces over at least the thighs, pelvis, waist, chest and shoulders with means for attaching it to other components of a personal fall arrest system" (29 CFR 1926.500(b); §1910.66, Appendix C, section I (b)).

The definition does not require nor does it exclude the use of a waist or chest strap as part of a full body harness, as long as the harness properly distributes the fall arrest forces. Both standards require that the maximum arresting forces on the worker, when using a body harness as part of a personal fall arrest system, be limited to 1,800 pounds (8 kN) (§1926.502(d)(16); §1910.66, Appendix C, section I (d)(1)(ii)).

If you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us again by writing to: OSHA- Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Compliance Assistance, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20210.


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction