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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. Hardip Singh
16873 Rabbit Run Drive
Strongsville, Ohio 44136
Re: STD 1-6.5; hard hats; exemption for religious reasons
Dear Mr. Singh,
This responds to your April 20, 2001, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), regarding exception for religious reason from wearing hard hats. In your letter you ask the status of Field Information Memorandum # 75-11 dated February 4, 1975.
The 1975 memorandum stated that "the Old Order Amish and the Sikh Dharma Brotherhood are both granted an exemption from wearing hard hats. The granting of the above exemption is based on the provisions in the United States Constitution relating tothe free exercise of religion . . . ." After a series of legal developments, OSHA issued Directive STD 1-6.5 - Exemption for Religious Reason from Wearing Hard Hats, dated June 20, 1994, (copy enclosed; those legal developments are explained in the "Background" section of the Directive).1 The 1994 directive provides an exception from citations to employers of employees "who, for reasons of personal religious convictions, object to wearing hard hats in the workplace. . . ."
Therefore, in most situations, OSHA does not require employees who object to wearing hard hats for reasons of personal religious convictions to wear them.
For further assistance, please write to: Directorate of Construction-OSHA, [Office of Construction Standards and Guidance], Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N. W., Washington, D.C. 20210.
Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction
1OSHA directive STD 1-6.5 (Exemption for Religious Reason from Wearing Hard Hats), dated June 20, 1994, also cancels: OSHA Instruction STD 1-6.3, January 31, 1978, "Exemption from Wearing Hard Hats, Old Order Amish and Sikh Dharma Brotherhood"; OSHA Notice CPL, November 5, 1990, "Cancellation of OSHA Instruction"; and the memorandum dated July 24, 1991, "For All Regional Administrators Regarding Exemption from Wearing Hard Hats for Religious Reasons." The 1994 directive supersedes the 1975 memorandum. [back to text]