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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

November 20, 2002

Regional Administrator
FROM: Russell B. Swanson
Director, Directorate of Construction

We are in receipt of your October 28, 2002, memorandum in which you ask us to clarify aspects of our August 10, 2000, letter to Mrs. Regina McMichael regarding OSHA compliance directive STD 3-0.1A (interim fall protection guidelines for residential construction). Your questions relate to the scope of the directive and the scope of 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13) (fall protection requirements for residential construction).

STD 3-0.1A
The directive describes the scope of STD 3-0.1A as follows: "Alternative fall protection procedures are available to employers who are: (1) engaged in residential construction, and (2) doing one of the listed activities." It then provides a definition of "residential construction" and lists four groups of activities. Alternative fall protection procedures are specified for each group. Employers engaged in a covered activity are permitted to use the alternative procedures without a showing that conventional fall protection is infeasible and without a written, site specific erection plan.

Your questions stem from a paragraph in the McMichael letter which states:

STD 3-0.1A limits the structure's height ‘to three and a half stories or 48 feet (including the basement, two finished levels, attic). The 48-feet measure is from the base of the building, at the lowest ground level (including any excavation), to the point of greatest height.' You ask if that excludes buildings that are less than 48 feet high but have more than 3½ stories. The answer is no -- as in Appendix E, as long as they are no more than 48 feet high (and otherwise meet the definition) they would be considered residential construction.

We have paraphrased your questions asfollows:

Question (1): The height limitation of 48 feet/3½ stories appears in the section of STD 3-0.1A on "Group 1 Activities" (installation of floor joists, floor sheathing, and roof sheathing; erecting exterior walls, setting and bracing roof trusses and rafters). Does this height limitation also limit the availability of alternative procedures for Groups 2, 3, and 4?

No. The alternative procedures listed for the Group 1 activities are based on the alternative procedures set out in Part 1926 Subpart M Appendix E. This height limitation appears within the description of alternative procedures for Group 1, not in the scope section for the directive. Therefore, the height limitation applies only to the availability of the alternative procedures for Group 1 activities.

Question (2): Section 1926.501(b)(13) contains requirements for fall protection for "residential construction." Does the McMichael letter apply the 48 feet/3½ stories height limitation to the term "residential construction" as used in §1926.501(b)(13)?

No. The discussion in the McMichael letter was limited to the Group 1 activities of STD 3-0.1A.

1Note, though, that there are other height limitations for Group 4 activities. [back to text]