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.

December 21, 2001

Mr. Stephen E. Sandherr
Chief Executive Officer
The Associated General Contractors of America
333 John Carlyle Street
Suite 200
Alexandria, VA 22314

Dear Mr. Sandherr:

This is in response to your letter of November 30 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). I appreciate your words of encouragement regarding our decision to release a draft of the compliance directive for the new steel erection standard. We appreciate the time and effort that the AGC and others have taken to review and offer suggestions on the draft.

As you know, OSHA historically has issued compliance directives only in final form, usually after or concurrent with a new standard's effective date. I believe that, in general, a better practice is to release directives in draft form in advance of the effective date of a new standard. In the case of the steel erection directive, the earliest this could be done was late November.

As you know, the effective date of the standard is January 18, 2002. In order to have the compliance directive in place when the standard takes effect, we could give stakeholders only 20 days to submit informal suggestions. However, I want to reassure you that I will not hesitate to revise directives where questions,problems or information requiring changes arise. Consequently, I want to encourage you to continue your review and share your complete analysis with us when it is done. We can make additional changes to the directive on an as-needed basis.

As you also know, we previously delayed the effective date of the standard 6 months beyond the original date. While we are not further postponing the effective date of the standard, I do believe that it is very important that we provide opportunity for both OSHA field personnel and employers and employees to become familiar with the new requirements of the Steel Erection Standard. For that reason, we have posted on the OSHA website notice that OSHA will not conduct general schedule inspections on the standard for 60 days (until March 19, 2002), in order that we can focus our efforts on education, training, and outreach.

Thank you again for the suggestions that you have already submitted and I look forward to continuing to work with you.

Sincerely,



John L. Henshaw
Assistant Secretary