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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

June 30, 2003



MEMORANDUM FOR: Patricia K. Clark, Regional Administrator
Region II
ATTN: Alberto Torres
FROM: Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction
SUBJECT: Whether STD 3-0.1A applies to homes built of block and masonry construction.


This memorandum responds to your June 14, 2002, e-mail to Noah Connell in which you ask for clarification of the scope in STD 3-0.1A, the plain language rewrite of OSHA Instruction STD 3.1, titled Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction. We apologize for the long delay in providing this response.

Question: May an employer use the fall protection procedures in STD 3-0.1A when using block and masonry wall construction (instead of stick-framing) for building a single family home?

No. Section 1926.501(b)(13) of Subpart M requires conventional fall protection to be used at heights over 6 feet. It also allows an employer to use alternative fall protection methods if it can demonstrate the infeasibility of conventional fall protection. The alternative procedures must be in a written and site-specific plan that complies with the criteria in §1926.502(k).

In contrast, under STD 3-0.1A employers may use alternative procedures where workers are doing specified residential construction activities without having to show the infeasibility of conventional fall protection and without having to have a written, site-specific fall protection plan.

STD 3-0.1A applies to "residential construction" which is defined in the directive as follows:



For purposes of this instruction, an employer is engaged in residential construction where the working environment, materials, methods and procedures are essentially the same as those used in building a typical single-family home or townhouse.

Residential construction is characterized by:
Materials: Wood framing (not steel or concrete); wooden floor joists and roof structures.
Methods: Traditional wood frame construction techniques.
[Emphasis added]
* * *

The basis for allowing alternative procedures is that the industry claimed that stick-built framing is not sufficiently strong to anchor fall protection systems and that other means of providing protection (such as by using scaffolds) are not feasible.

Since the basis for allowing the procedures in STD 3-0.1A was the asserted inadequacy of stick-built construction for anchoring fall protection systems, and in light of the specific reference to stick-built framing construction in the directive, STD 3-0.1A does not apply to homes built with masonry walls.

Note that in the enclosed interpretation letter of August 16, 2001, to David King, we stated that STD 3-0.1A does not apply to structures where the roof is stick-framed but the rest of the structure is not.

If you need any further clarification on this subject, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, [Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance], fax # 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.





1Note, though, that STD 3-0.1A does apply to homes with stick-built framing on foundation walls made of concrete and block or poured concrete. [ back to text ]