- Standard Number:
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.
February 10, 2006
Mr. Richard Viktora, Esq.
Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, LLP
14 Wall Street
New York, NY 10005
Dear Mr. Viktora:
Thank you for your June 28, 2005, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP). This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondence. You are requesting clarification as to whether the six installed steel stairs with a slope angle of 60 degrees, in your work area, would be acceptable in a general industry setting. Your paraphrased scenario, question, and our response are provided below.
Scenario: Employees are required to access the maintenance platforms from six steel stairs that are located in the mechanical areas. The available space in the mechanical areas is limited, and the stairs in question would have to be installed at a slope angle of 60 degrees to the horizontal, rather than the required 30 to 50 degrees.
Question: Since the stairs in question are not for public access or egress, and the stairs do not adversely affect the safety of the building employees, would OSHA consider the installation of these stairs as an acceptable safe practice?
Response: Please note, the existing standard at 29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart D, Walking-Working Surfaces, does not have provisions for stairs with angles to the horizontal greater than 50 degrees. However, as you noted in your letter, the 1990 Proposed Rule for Subpart D, Walking and Working Surfaces, addresses this issue at proposed §1910.25, Stairs, paragraph (e)(1), which defines these types of stairs as "ship's stairs" and states, "Ship's stairs shall be installed at a slope between 50 degrees and 70 degrees from the horizontal."
Therefore, in areas where conventional industrial stairs cannot be installed due to limited space availability, then OSHA would consider the installation of fixed industrial stairs with a slope between 50 degrees to 70 degrees from the horizontal to be a de minimis violation. De minimis violations are violations of standards which have no direct or immediate relationship to safety or health. Under the de minimis policy, an employer may comply with a proposed standard or amendment or a consensus standard, rather than with the standard in effect at the time of the inspection, only if the employer's action clearly provides equal or greater employee protection or the employer complies with a written interpretation issued by the OSHA Regional or National Office. With de minimis violations, OSHA does not issue citations, or require abatement.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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. 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