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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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



August 10, 2000

Mrs. Regina McMichael
AURUS Safety Management, Inc.
103 Bradley Street
Clement, South Carolina 29631

Dear Mrs. McMichael:

This is in response to your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding OSHA's interim fall protection enforcement policy for residential construction. You express a concern that in our plain language re-write of the policy we actually changed the definition of residential construction and revised the height restrictions.

As you know, on December 8, 1995, OSHA published STD 3.1, an interim fall protection compliance policy for certain residential construction activities. On June 18, 1999, OSHA published [STD 03-00-001 (formerly STD 3-0.1A)], a plain language rewrite of this policy. The definition of residential construction remains unchanged and continues to include structures where the working environment, materials, methods and procedures are essentially the same as those used in building a typical single-family home or townhouse.

To help clarify the policy, we added examples of building materials ("wood framing [not steel or concrete]; wooden floor joists and roof structures") and methods in the re-write. Typical single family homes are constructed with wood framing. However, the use of a single steel I-beam in the main floor structure, poured concrete (or cinder block) foundation walls, a stucco exterior, or metal stud framing instead of wood stud framing would not exclude a home from the scope of STD 3-0.1A.

STD 3-0.1A limits the structure's height "to three and a half stories or 48 feet (including the basement, two finished levels, attic). The 48-foot measure is from the base of the building, at the lowest ground level (including any excavation), to the point of greatest height." You ask if that excludes buildings that are less than 48 feet high but have more that 3½ stories. The answer is no — as in Appendix E, as long as they are no more than 48 feet high (and otherwise meet the definition) they would be considered residential construction.

If you need additional information, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, fax # 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction

[Corrected 6/2/2005]