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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

April 18, 2002

The Honorable Lee Terry
Member of Congress
11640 Arbor Street, Suite 100
Omaha, NE 68144

Dear Congressman Terry:

This letter is in response to your February 14, 2002 inquiry on behalf of your constituent, Mr. Eugene Valasek, about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's ("OSHA's") roofing safety standards.

OSHA has separate fall protection requirements for roofing work in residential construction versus roofing work in other areas of construction. In essence, under existing OSHA compliance policy, specified work practices are permitted to be used in place of conventional fall protection for this residential work.

In August 1994, OSHA issued a new standard for fall protection in construction. Subsequently, representatives of the residential construction industry and Members of Congress asserted that less stringent requirements were appropriate for residential construction than those set forth in the standard. Consequently, in December 1995, OSHA published an interim fall protection policy (STD 3.1) for certain residential construction activities (one of which is roofing work).
STD 3-0.1A, published in June 1999 (copy attached), is a plain language rewrite of STD 3.1.

Under the current policy, the distinction between residential construction and the rest of the construction industry is based on the materials and construction methods used to build the structure. The distinction is not based on the structure's ultimate use (commercial vs. residential), classification of worker (roofer vs. carpenter), or employer's line of business (roofing contractor vs. framing contractor). If the materials and construction methods meet the test for "residential construction," the alternative procedures in STD 3-0.1A apply.

According to our interim policy STD 3-0.1A:

"Residential construction is characterized by:
  • Materials: Wood framing (not steel or concrete); wooden floor joists and roof structures.
  • Methods: Traditional wood frame construction techniques.
* * *
[T]he 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 characteristics listed above are present.

Residential construction, as defined in the directive, may be found in structures other than single-/multi-family homes or condominiums.

The alternative procedures in the directive are available to those involved in residential construction only if the work falls into one of four specific work categories outlined in the directive (such as roofing work). Also, the alternative procedures are a substitute for the fall protection requirements in the fall protection standard, but not for other requirements in other standards (for example, safety standards for scaffolds, power tools, etc.).

STD 3-0.1A(VIII)(B) lists four groups of residential construction activities "for which alternative fall protection plans are available. "Group 4" consists of "roofing work (removal, repair, or installation of weatherproofing roofing materials such as shingles, tile and tar paper)." This group deals exclusively with the installation, repair, and removal of weatherproofing materials. It does not include roof-sheathing work, the construction of the surface that supports the weatherproofing materials.

STD 3-0.1A(XII) further restricts the applicability of Group 4 as follows:

The alternative procedures in this Instruction may only be used for this work where: (a) the roof slope is 8 in 12 or less, and (b) the fall distance, measured from the eave to the ground level, is 25 feet or less.

The alternative procedures for Group 4 activities consist of (A) General Requirements; (B) Requirements for using Safety Monitors and Slide Guards, (C) Slide Guards: Requirements for Materials, Configuration and Installation.

With respect to training, under General Requirements, STD 3-0.1A requires that "[o]nly workers who have been trained to be proficient in the alternative methods of fall protection shall be allowed onto the roof. . . In addition, each affected employee shall be trained to ensure specific awareness of the fall hazards associated with work on roofs with rake edges ("rake edges" are inclined roof edges, such as those on the gable end of a building.)" This training requirement is in addition to general construction-training requirements.

The STD 3-0.1A General Requirements also address slip hazards, bad weather, holes/openings, ladders, scaffolds, access to roofs, location of materials, and impalement hazards. Categories B and C add specific requirements about slide guard use, construction, configuration, and about safety monitors.

I hope that this adequately addresses your inquiry. Please do not hesitate to contact [the OSHA Directorate of Enforcement Programs] again on this matter, or have Mr. Valasek or your office contact the [Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at 202-693-4600].


John L. Henshaw
Assistant Secretary