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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

February 28, 2001

Brent R. Hancock
Central Region Safety Manager
Fluor Daniel
5400 Airport Freeway, Suite G
Halton City, TX 76117

Re: Subpart M; STD 3-0.1A; residential wireless phone system antenna installation on completed/inhabited residential housing

Dear Mr. Hancock:

This correspondence is in response to your January 8, 2001, e-mail to Bruce Swanson, Director of OSHA's Directorate of Construction, and a January 12, 2001, telephone conversation with Michael Buchet, a DOC Safety and Health Specialist. Your e-mail asked whether STD 3-0.1A, Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction - Group III applies to rooftop installation of wireless telephone antennae and connected coaxial cables.

Question: Does STD 3-0.1A Section VIII, Subsection B., Group III. Alternate Procedures, apply to rooftop wireless telephone system component installation on existing, occupied homes?

29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart M, which took effect February 6, 1995, allows alternatives to traditional fall protection methods in several instances where conventional methods are infeasible or create a greater hazard. The provision reads:

"Each employee engaged in residential construction activities 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above lower levels shall be protected by guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest system unless another provision in paragraph (b) of this section provides for an alternative fall protection measure. Exception: When the employer can demonstrate that it is infeasible or creates a greater hazard to use these systems, the employer shall develop and implement a fall protection plan which meets the requirements of paragraph (k) of §1926.502."

NOTE: There is a presumption that it is feasible and will not create a greater hazard to implement at least one of the above-listed fall protection systems. Accordingly, the employer has the burden of establishing that it is appropriate to implement a fall protection plan which complies with §1926.502(k) for a particular workplace situation, in lieu of implementing any of those systems.

In response to the issues raised by the industry, on December 8, 1995, OSHA issued STD 3.1, Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction. OSHA replaced STD 3.1 with STD 3-0.1A, Plain Language Revision of OSHA Instruction STD 3.1, Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction, on June 18, 1999, and canceled STD 3.1 at that time as well.

STD 3-0.1A permits residential construction employers to implement the fall protection measures outlined in 29 CFR Part 1926 Subpart M Appendix E without developing a site-specific written fall protection plan and without demonstrating the infeasibility of conventional fall protection. The Appendix E procedures are, for the most part, work practices to be used when working from foundation walls, roofs, and in attics.

Alternative procedures are available to employers who are (1) engaged in residential construction, and (2) doing one of the listed activities.


  1. Definition of "residential construction."
    1. For purposes of this instruction, an employer is engaged in residential construction where the working environment, materials, methods and procedures are essentially the same as those used in building a typical single-family home or townhouse.
    2. Residential construction is characterized by:
      Materials: Wood framing (not steel or concrete); wooden floor joists and roof structures.
      Methods: Traditional wood frame construction techniques.
    3. In addition, the construction of a discrete part of a large commercial building (not the entire building), such as a wood frame, shingled entranceway to a mall, may fit within the definition of residential construction. Such discrete parts of a commercial building would qualify as residential construction where the characteristics listed above are present.
  2. Listed Activities and Alternative Procedures.
    There are four groups of residential construction activities for which alternative fall protection plans are available. Each group has its own set of alternative procedures and will be discussed in Sections IX through XII. The groups are:
    1. Group 1......
    2. Group 2......
    3. Group 3. This group consists of the following activities when performed in attics and on roofs: installing drywall, insulation, HVAC systems, electrical systems (including alarms, telephone lines, and cable TV), plumbing and carpentry.
    4. Group 4......
      [emphasis added]

STD 3-0.1A, Section XI, details the alternate procedures for Group 3 residential construction activities:



    Installing drywall, insulation, HVAC systems, electrical systems (including alarms, telephone lines, and cable TV), plumbing and carpentry.
    This Instruction specifies the procedures for this group. They are:
    1. Trained Workers Only. Only trained workers shall be allowed to work in attics and on roofs, and only as necessary to complete the construction of the system being installed.
    2. Staging of Materials. Materials and equipment for the work shall be located conveniently close to the workers.
    3. Impalement Hazards. Materials and other objects which could pose impalement hazards shall be keep out of the area below where workers are working, or properly guarded.
    4. Restricted Access. While attic or roof work is in progress, workers not involved in such work shall not stand or walk below or adjacent to any openings in the ceiling where they could be struck by falling objects.
    5. Bad Weather. When adverse weather (such as high winds, rain, snow, or sleet) creates a hazardous condition, operations shall be suspended until the hazardous condition no longer exists.


NOTE: The provisions of this Instruction do not apply to interior finishing work when done outside of attics or roofs areas. Subpart M applies to such work with respect to stairways, stairway openings, walkways, floor or window openings, floor holes or other elevated openings or open sides.

Our response is based solely on the fact that your activities consist of altering the existing home telephone wiring and its connection to telephone company service. Your work of installing/connecting a telephone digital signal converter box, coaxial cable, telephone digital signal antenna and connecting these components to the home's existing telephone system falls within the telephone lines and cable TV examples for Group 3 activities since the work entails virtually the same, if not identical, tools, components, procedures, and connection/attachment methods.

As long as your employees are engaged in residential construction as described above in STD 3-0.1A VIII(A) and their activities fall within those listed in STD 3-0.1A VIII(B) Group 3, you may choose to use the alternative fall protection procedures described in STD 3-0.1A XI.

If we can be of further assistance, please contact us again by writing to: Directorate of Construction-OSHA, Office of Construction Standards and Compliance Assistance, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210.


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction