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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.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

March 10, 2004

Mr. Timothy J. Batz, CSP, ARM
Sr. Risk Control Consultant
1550 17th Street, Suite 600
Denver, CO 80202-2423

Re: Whether fall protection is required for employees working on vehicles and trailers; 29 CFR 1926.500; General Duty Clause

Dear Mr. Batz:

This is in response to your letter dated January 26, 2004, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We have paraphrased your question as follows:

Question: Does an employer have a duty to provide fall protection to employees exposed to fall hazards in excess of 6 feet when they climb on top of materials on a tractor trailer rig to connect crane rigging for the purpose of loading and unloading of the materials?

Under 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(1), employers must provide fall protection to each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal and vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet or more above a lower level. However, §1926.500 defines a walking/working surface as:

Any surface, whether horizontal or vertical on which an employee walks or works, including, but not limited to, floors, roofs, ramps, bridges, runways, formwork and concrete reinforcing steel but not including ladders, vehicles, or trailers, on which employees must be located in order to perform their duties. [Emphasis added.]

Under the terms of the standard, fall protection is not required for employees who are on vehicles and trailers when the employee must be on the vehicle or trailer to perform his or her duties. If the employee must climb on the tractor trailer rigs to connect the rigging for loading and unloading by a crane, the employer would not have a duty to provide fall protection under this standard.

Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act ("General Duty Clause") states that each employer:

...shall furnish to each of his [or her] employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his [or her] employees.

29 CFR 1926.95(a) requires the use of protective equipment:

[W]herever it is necessary by reason of hazards...encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment....

No duty exists to provide fall protection under the General Duty Clause or §1926.95(a) where there is no feasible means of providing it. For the type of work you describe, there typically is no feasible means of providing fall protection.

If you need additional information, please contact us by fax (202-693-1689) at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance. You can also contact us by mail at U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction