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.

February 9, 2000

Ms. Paula K. Smith
Attorney for Utah OSHA
State of Utah Labor Commission
Office of General Counsel
160 East 300 South, 3rd Floor
P.O. Box 146600
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-6600

Dear Ms. Smith:

Thank you for your December 14, 1999 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Compliance Programs (DCP). We are providing you with interpretations of the Construction Asbestos Standard, 29 CFR 1926.1101, based on the specific situation you describe pertaining to floor tile and associated mastic removal.

Scenario: You describe an employer in Utah who was using an electric floor buffer with a rotating blade attachment to remove asbestos-containing mastic without first erecting a negative pressure enclosure (NPE) in which to perform the work. The employer in this scenario had wetted the floor. Utah OSHA (UOSH) believes the floor buffer was a Speedshine Standard 20" 175 RPM Floor Machine.

Your questions and our answers are provided below.

Question 1: Does 29 CFR 1926.1101(g)(8)(i)(D) allow only manual scraping (such as that with a stiff bladed floor scraper) under wet conditions or also allow mastic removal with a mechanical rotating blade?

Answer: An aggressive technique such as a mechanical rotating blade may be used to remove floor mastic only after an evaluation by the employer shows that removal by a less aggressive technique such as manual scraping is not feasible.

Question 2: Does use of a mechanical rotating blade constitute mechanical chipping regulated by 29 CFR 1926.1101(g)(8)(i)(F)?

Answer: Yes.

Question 3: Does use of a mechanical rotating blade constitute an alternative work practice regulated by 29 CFR 1926.1101(g)(8)[(vi)?

Answer: Yes, use of a mechanical rotating blade to remove asbestos-containing floor mastic is an alternative work practice that is regulated by 29 CFR 1926.1101(g)(8)(vi) as well as by 29 CFR 1926.1101(g)(8)(i)(F).

Question 4: Would use of a mechanical rotating blade to remove asbestos containing mastic constitute an aggressive method as defined by 29 CFR 1926.1101(b)?

Answer: Yes. It breaks, crumbles, or disintegrates the mastic.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. Please be aware that OSHA's enforcement guidance is subject to periodic review and clarification, amplification, or correction. Such guidance could also be affected by subsequent rulemaking. In the future, should you wish to verify that the guidance provided herein remains current, you may consult OSHA's website at
http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact OSHA's [Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190].


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
[Directorate of Enforcement Programs]

[Corrected 6/2/2005]