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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 http://www.osha.gov.
March 28, 2005
Mr. David Marciniak
General Services Administration
1800 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20405
Dear Mr. Marciniak:
Thank you for your June 4, 2004 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Office of Federal Agency Programs. Your letter was referred to the Office of General Industry Enforcement (GIE). Please be aware that this response may not be applicable to any situations not delineated within your original correspondence. You had specific questions regarding ANSI standards on window cleaning.
The questions below have been restated for clarity.
Question 1: Will OSHA adopt the ANSI approved IWCA I-14.1-2001 Window Cleaning standard? Does OSHA plan to adopt the standard in the future?
Answer: OSHA's proposed rulemaking to revise the Subpart D — Walking and Working Surfaces and Subpart I - Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection) standards (55 FR 13360, April 10, 199) includes requirements applicable to window cleaning. In general, these provisions mirror those contained in IWCA I-14.1- 2001. As noted in the reopening of the rulemaking on May 2, 2003 (68 FR 23537), OSHA has included the 2001 update of the IWCA standard in the rulemaking record and may base some parts of the final rule on the ANSI standard if the record supports that action.
Question 2: Will OSHA reference the ANSI standard in enforcement citations?
Answer: OSHA does not cite for violations of ANSI standards that have not been adopted as OSHA standards, but ANSI or other industry standards are sometimes referred to in citations and used as evidence of hazard recognition or feasible abatement means.
Question 3: Which employer can be cited for violations of Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act?
Answer: Under OSHAct Section 5(a)(1), an employer "shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees" (emphasis added).
For federal agency employers, OSHA does not cite for violations of Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, but would cite for a violation of the federal agency equivalent, 1960.8, which states "The head of each agency shall furnish to each employee 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."
Question 4: Should an accident occur due to failure of a safety measure, will OSHA reference current requirements or the ANSI standard?
Answer: If the hazard is addressed by a current OSHA standard, OSHA will cite the OSHA standard. If an accident is the result of a hazard not addressed by an OSHA standard, the hazardous condition may be citable under Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act. As noted in the answer to the previous question, an ANSI standard could be used to support an OSHAct Section 5(a)(1) citation.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. Please be aware that the enforcement guidance contained in this response represents the views of OSHA at the time the letter was written based on the facts of an individual case, question, or scenario and is subject to periodic review and clarification, amplification, or correction. It could also be affected by subsequent rulemaking; past interpretations may no longer be applicable. In the future, should you wish to verify that the guidance provided herein remains current, you may consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs