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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

May 16, 2001

Mr. Barrett Miller
2406 Lofberg Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32216

Re: §1926.754(c)(3); slip-resistance of structural steel

Dear Mr. Miller:

This is in response to your e-mail of April 26, 2000, in which you reference two articles you wrote on "slip resistance" and "the measurement of slip resistance." In addition, you discuss OSHA’s approach to regulating the slip resistance of structural steel. We apologize for the long delay in responding.

As you know, in 1994, OSHA’s Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (SENRAC) began holding public meetings to develop a recommendation for a new Steel Erection standard. One of the issues discussed by SENRAC was the slipperiness of steel products and the hazards associated with workers walking on them. Following extensive discussions and presentations from experts, SENRAC determined that conclusive studies and documented information on the subject of slippery surfaces were not available. To obtain more information, the Committee agreed that a study should be conducted by industry experts to test the slipperiness of steel surfaces. In May of 1995, through a grant from The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights, a study was conducted. The purpose of the study was to determine whether: painted surfaces can be made slip-resistant; slip-resistance can be measured with available slipmeters; a reasonable threshold of safety can be established; and empirical field evaluation by ironworkers would validate the demonstrated measurement methodology.

Based on the results of the study and other information submitted, SENRAC concluded that a requirement for structural steel should be proposed. However, the Committee decided that a requirement for metal decking could not be proposed at that time because it believed that it would not be feasible. The steel erection proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on August 13, 1998. It contained a provision covering slip-resistance for skeletal structural steel (§1926.754(c)(3) of the proposed rule). The proposed rule also identified (in an Appendix) two ASTM approved test methods for testing the surfaces (ASTM F1677-96 and ASTM F1679-96).

OSHA believes that SENRAC used the best information available at the time to develop its recommendation on this issue. OSHA proposed the steel erection standard in August 1998 and provided the public with an opportunity to comment on the proposed standard and/or testify at a public hearing held in December of 1998.

In preparation for the public hearing, OSHA contracted with four nationally recognized slip resistance experts, each of whom are independent of the government and the organizations represented on SENRAC, to research how to reduce slip hazards on coated structural steel. OSHA also contracted with a nationally recognized expert in the application of physical sciences and principles of safety engineering to event analysis and reconstruction (Mr. George Widas), to peer-review thatresearch.

The research expanded on the study performed in 1995. The research objectives were to determine whether: adequate slip-resistant paints are available; the application of slip-resistant paint is cheap and easy to perform; slipmeter readings correlate with the subjective impressions of ironworkers and test results of shoe soles by a Sport Shoe Traction Tester;and to recommend a specification for slip-resistance of painted structural steel. All slipmeter results were obtained using a Variable Incidence Tribometer (VIT) according to ASTM F1679-96.

One of the four experts was Mr. Bill English, a manufacturer of the VIT slip resistance tester. While we were aware of his financial interest in the rulemaking, the purpose of the research was not to determine how Mr. English’s machine performed relative to other types or brands of slipmeters. The experts explained their choice of Mr. English’s machine in their report (on page 6) as follows:

"Because critics of our work have been so vociferous about precision and bias, and since the VIT is the only slipmeter having an ASTM F13 standard for its use on wet surfaces that has achieved satisfactory precision and bias according to ASTM E691-92 Standard Practice for Conducting an Interlaboratory Study to Determine the Precision of a Test Method, it is the only slipmeter used in our testing. The Portable Inclinable Articulated Strut Tribometer (the Brungraber Mk II) was not used because it had not yet produced acceptable precision and bias and was, in fact, in the process of redesign at the time of our testing."



The research was subjected to scrutiny and criticism at the public hearing and in post-hearing briefs, which are part of the rulemaking record. The final steel erection standard, based on the proposed rule and the comments and testimony received, was published on January 18, 2001. This final standard allows various kinds of testers for measuring slip resistance. It provides that workers may not walk on coated structural steel unless the coating’s average slip resistance is at least .50 as measured by an English XL tribometer or "equivalent tester" according to the appropriate ASTM test method (29 CFR 1926.754(c)(3)). Acceptable test methods are listed in the non-mandatory Appendix B. They include the ASTM method F1677-96 that uses a Portable Inclineable Articulated Strut Slip Tester, as well as ASTM Method FI679-96, that uses the Variable Incidence Tribometer (VIT). Thus, as you can see, the final standard provides for the use of testers other than the VIT, specifies one such additional tester, and allows for other "equivalent" testers. We drafted these provisions to encourage the development and refinement of various reliable methods of testing the slip-resistance of skeletal structural steel. To assure ample time for development and testing of coatings and reliable measurement devices, the standard delays the enforcement of the slip-resistance requirements until July 18, 2006 (29 CFR 1926.754(c)(3)). At that time, slip-resistance testing may be accomplished by using the meters in the appendix, and by the use of alternative meters, now unspecified, so long as they are referenced in an appropriate ASTM method and shown to be equivalent to the listed testers.

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]



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.