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.

August 22, 2000

Mr. J. Robert Harrell
President
Safety Management Services
4012 Santa Nella Place
San Diego, CA 92130-2291

Dear Mr. Harrell:

This is in response to your letters dated February 29 and April 17, 2000, to OSHA's Directorate of Construction. I apologize for the delay in providing this response.

In your February 29 letter, you take issue with our policy regarding the use of scaffold stairs that comply with Subpart L, but do not comply with Subpart X, for access to a multi-story structure. We explained our policy in a letter dated
February 23, 2000 to Mr. Gary Larson.

The last paragraph of our letter to Mr. Larson reads,

"While the provisions of Subpart X do apply to scaffold stairs used for such access, the use of scaffold stair towers as a means of access between levels of a multistory structure would be a de minimis violation where the scaffold stair tower system is designed, erected and maintained in full compliance with Subpart L. De minimis violations of standards exist when an employer complies with the clear intent of the standard but deviates from its particular requirements in a manner that has no direct or immediate impact on the safety and health of workers. OSHA does not impose penalties or require correction of de minimis violations."

In the near future, we plan to issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in which we will ask the public for information on several Subpart L issues. After the public responds, we will consider the information submitted and determine if it would be appropriate to propose any changes to Subpart L. At that point we will consider your remarks on the Subpart X/Subpart L issue and determine if any changes to the standard regarding this issue should be proposed.

In your April 17 letter, you ask the following: if OSHA issues a de minimis citation to an employer on one occasion, and then finds the same violation on a subsequent occasion, how would the second instance be treated — would it be considered de minimis, Serious, Repeat, or Willful?

OSHA does not issue citations where the violation is considered de minimis. Consequently, neither the first instance nor subsequent instances of de minimis violations would be cited.

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.

Sincerely,

 

Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction

[Corrected 6/2/2005]