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.

September 27, 2001

Mr. Eric Newton
Steel Supply & Erection Co., Inc.
1237 N. Fayetteville Street
Asheboro, NC 27204

Dear Mr. Newton:

This is in response to your letter of April 24 to Senator John Edwards regarding concerns about the cost of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) new steelerection standard. Your letter was forwarded to OSHA for response.

A revision to OSHA's steel erection standard has been under development for many years. In 1992, following petitions from affected parties in the steel erection industry, the Agency decided that 29 CFR 1926, Subpart R (Safety Standard for Steel Erection) should be amended by negotiated rulemaking. The composition of a negotiated rulemaking committee is required to represent a broad spectrum of the affected industry.

On December 29, 1992, OSHA published a Notice of Intent to Establish a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. From the numerous nominations for participation, OSHA selected committee members representing labor, industry, public interests, and government agencies. The Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (SENRAC) began negotiations in June 1994 and met 11 times over an 18-month period. The meetings were held in cities across the country, including Denver, St. Louis, Boston and Washington, DC. The public was encouraged to attend the meetings, participate in SENRAC workgroups, and address the Committee. All meetings were announced in the Federal Register and through other means, including through industry publications.

Based on the SENRAC recommendations, OSHA issued a steel erection proposed rule in August 1998. Included in the proposal was an economic analysis, which provided estimates of the costs that would result if the proposal were enacted. OSHA provided the public with an opportunity to make written comments on the proposal and to testify at a public hearing held in December of 1998. Over 300 written comments were submitted, and approximately 50 persons testified at the public hearing. A number of the comments addressed cost issues. The hearing record for the proposal was closed and certified June 12, 2000.

Following a complete review and analysis of the entire rulemaking record, including the written comments and hearing testimony, OSHA issued the Steel Erection Final Rule on January 18, 2001. A complete economic analysis on the Final Rule was made and is available at OSHA' s Docket Office. OSHA addressed the cost issues raised by the commenters in the Preamble to the Final Rule (copy enclosed).

The economic analysis addresses the costs, benefits, and alternatives to the rule that were considered. It includes a description of the industries potentially affected by the standard; an evaluation of the risks addressed; an assessment of the benefits attributable to the final standard; a determination of the technological feasibility of the new requirements; an estimate of the costs employers will incur to comply with the standard; a determination of the economic feasibility of compliance with the standard; and an analysis of the potential worst-case economic and other effects associated with this rule, including those on small businesses. As a result of this analysis, the Agency determined that the standard is economically feasible. In addition, OSHA believes that the industry will receive economic benefits from compliance with the Final Rule that will serve to significantly offset the direct costs (please see enclosed steel erection Final Rule, pages 5253-5263, for a more detailed discussion of the economic effects of the standard).

OSHA recently issued a delay in the effective date of the Final Rule until January 18, 2002 (see enclosed press release and Federal Register notice). The new effective date gives additional time to the industry to become familiar with the Final Rule's requirements and to provide training to employees in the construction industry. In anticipation of practical effects, OSHA included in the delay "grandfather" protection for certain projects where permits were granted before January 18, 2001 or where steel erection begins before September 16, 2001. In addition, OSHA is preparing outreach and training material to assist the industry in the training process.

If you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us by writing to: [Directorate of Construction, OSHA, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance], Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210.

Sincerely,



John L. Henshaw

Enclosure

Cc: The Honorable John Edwards