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 https://www.osha.gov.

September 11, 2003

Sidney Freedman
Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute
209 West Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60606

Re: Enforcement of Subpart M "Fall Protection"; §1926.501(b)

Dear Mr. Freedman:

This is in response to your letter dated July 24, 2003, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in which you raise concerns relating to inconsistent enforcement of Subpart M "Fall Protection" [29 CFR 1926.501(b)] by OSHA field offices. We apologize for the delay in providing this response.

Your letter to us is in follow-up to a meeting held in Washington, DC, on June 24 of this year. At that meeting you raised your concerns regarding a lack of consistency among the OSHA Regions in the enforcement of Subpart M as it relates to various operations performed by precast concrete erectors. Specifically, you pointed out that precast concrete erectors are being cited under various subparagraphs of 29 CFR 1926.501(b) for utilizing a safety monitoring system to meet your fall protection responsibilities without first establishing at each project that other fall protection systems are infeasible or present a greater hazard. You contend that the
Memorandum to the Regional Administrators issued by Deputy Assistant Secretary James Stanley on July 12, 1995, ("the Stanley memo") allows contractors engaged in precast concrete operations to use the alternative fall protection plan detailed in Appendix E of the Standard without the need to justify at each site the infeasibility/greater hazard of conventional fall protection.

The Stanley memo, which addresses the proper application of a fall protection plan under Subpart M "Fall Protection," states:

To eliminate the need for contractors to repeatedly make the same arguments and demonstrations at each project site with regard to infeasibility or greater hazard, OSHA will accept the reasons provided in the sample fall protection plan [Appendix E of Subpart M] as meeting the plan justification requirements of the standard.

OSHA recognizes that it is important that contractors who implement reasonable safety measures in compliance with this policy are credited with those efforts and not cited for safety violations. To that end, at a recent meeting, Deputy Assistant Secretary, R. Davis Layne, reminded all of the Regional Administrators that the Stanley memo remains the official OSHA policy with respect to precast concrete construction.

Your letter raises a second issue, viz., the tasks which the safety monitor can perform without interfering with monitoring duties. OSHA has addressed this issue in previous interpretations as follows: The safety monitor may be a member of the crew so long as they are "able to see and communicate with the person(s) being monitored."
1 Whatever extra duties the monitor may be assigned cannot prevent him or her from fulfilling the monitor function.

If you need any additional information, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA, Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210; although, there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.

Sincerely yours,

Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction



1 See March 30, 1995, letter to Senator Shelby (included for your benefit). [ back to text ]