Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

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

May 25, 2000

SUBJECT: OSHA'S Enforcement Policy - Residential Construction

This is in response to the numerous questions raised by your staff during the residential construction training class held in Arlington, Texas. We apologize for the delay in providing this written response.

Question 1: Is apartment construction considered residential construction?

Answer: Only if the apartment complex is constructed using the same materials and methods as are traditionally used for wood framed single family houses and townhouses (i.e., raising stick framed walls, installing wood trusses and floor joists, etc.) would its construction be considered residential. An apartment constructed with precast concrete floors, structural steel, or other materials that are not traditionally used in stick frame home construction would not be considered residential construction and would be beyond the scope of [STD 03-00-001(formerly STD 3-0.1A)].

Question 2: If residential construction materials and techniques are used for something other than a residence, is the project considered residential construction? (Example: It looks like a house but will be used as a dentist's office.)

Answer: Yes. Note the answer to the next question.

Question 3: Can you clarify the definition of residential construction?

Answer: This was a common request prior to the issuance of STD 3-0.1A. Section VIII of the new plain language directive more thoroughly depicts what would constitute residential construction. It states that where the working environment, materials, methods and procedures are essentially the same as those used in building a typical single-family home or townhouse, the employer would be considered engaged in residential construction. Wood framing (not steel or concrete), wooden floor joists and roof structures are characteristic of the materials used, and traditional wood frame construction techniques are the methods used in residential construction. OSHA also recognizes metal studs as one for one substitutions for the 2x4 wooden studs used in modern residential construction. Structures that use metal studs are considered residential construction if they meet the other criteria for residential construction.

Question 4: How do the appendices for the fall protection standard relate to residential construction?

Answer: The appendices are non-mandatory - there is no requirement that they be followed. However, in specified circumstances, an employer that follows them will be considered to be in compliance with the standard. When a residential contractor can demonstrate that conventional fall protection either is infeasible or creates a greater hazard, section 1926.501(b)(13) permits the use of a fall protection plan, as outlined in 1926.502(k). Appendix E provides sample fall protection plans that contain the required elements.

Question 5: What are the spacing requirements for slide guards on roofs?

Answer: The spacing requirements are listed in STD 3-0.1A, Section D.- Alternative Procedures for Group 1 and Section G.- Alternative procedures for Group 4. If an employer elects to follow STD 3-0.1A, or is operating under the Roof Sheathing Operations section of Appendix E (Federal Register, Vol. 59, page 40,753), it must follow the spacing requirements in the Directive or the Appendix[.] (they are the same). For a full explanation of these guidelines, refer to the attached June 18, 1999 directive.

Question 6: If the slide guards are not properly spaced, what should we cite?

Answer: If an employer (engaged in residential construction) does not provide conventional fall protection, the compliance officer must determine if STD 3-0.1A provides alternative procedures for the activity in question. If alternative procedures are available, the compliance officer must then determine whether they have been properly implemented. If they have not, [C]ite 1926.501(b)(13). No other provision may be cited for a fall hazard addressed by 1926.501(b)(13). Deficiencies in training required by 1926.20 may be cited where appropriate.

Question 7: What fall protection is required when trusses and rafters are being placed?

Answer: For employers operating under STD 3-0.1A (or Appendix E), the procedures are listed in STD 3-0.1A, Section VIII, paragraph D.

Question 8: In light of the fact that devices (such as the "Truss-T") have been developed, can residential construction employers still claim that it is infeasible or creates a greater hazard to use conventional fall protection equipment when performing this work? Will we continue to allow employees to walk the walls, trusses, etc. without conventional fall protection equipment?

Answer: As long as STD 3-0.1A is in effect, employers may use the alternative procedures in the Directive for the specified operations without showing that conventional fall protection is infeasible. The issue of whether this policy should continue is being examined through the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for subpart M. The ANPR sought public comment on many of the questions you have asked.

[This document was edited on 12/5/12 to strike information that no longer reflects current OSHA policy.]

As always, should you have further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

[Corrected 6/2/2005]