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.

February 10, 2006

Mr. Rob McAdoo
Basin Electric Power Cooperative
1717 East Interstate Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58503

Dear Mr. McAdoo:

Thank you for your May 19, 2005, correspondence 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 regarding fall protection from fixed ladders. Your paraphrased scenario, question, and our response are provided below.

Scenario: Employees need to gain access to various levels within precipitators to perform maintenance. The precipitators are approximately 50 feet in height. The precipitators are fitted with fixed ladders that are 40-50 feet in length. Cages and landing platforms are not installed on the fixed ladders because their installation would interfere with the process that occurs within the precipitators.

Question: In lieu of extensive redesign or the use of portable ladders, would OSHA accept a fall arrest system that provides 100% fall protection during ascent and descent of fixed ladders, as an acceptable alternative safety procedure?

Response: Yes. OSHA will permit the use of a personal fall arrest system that provides continuous (100%) fall protection for employees exposed to falls. In the situation you describe, the use of a personal fall protection system should afford employees an equivalent level of safety.

Under OSHA's policy for de minimis violations, an employer's noncompliance with the terms of a safety or health standard will not be cited, if the employer instead complying with the terms of a proposed standard that clearly provides equal or greater employee protection against the hazard in question. Under OSHA's proposed revision to the fall protection requirements for general industry (55 Fed. Reg. 13360, April 10, 1990, reprinted, 68 Fed. Reg. 23528, May 2, 2003), employers would have the option of using cages, wells, or personal fall protection systems to protect employees against falls from fixed ladders. See proposed ยง1910.23(c)(14).

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.

Sincerely,



Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs

Enclosure