- OSH Act:
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.
April 25, 2006
Chief Operations Officer
Building Construction Solutions, Inc.
1141 Rand Road, Unit C
Rapid City, SD 57702
Re: Whether the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires impalement protection from protruding anchor bolts.
Dear Mr. LaFrance:
This is in response to your June 27, 2005, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which was forwarded to the Directorate of Construction from the Kansas City Regional OSHA office. Please accept our apology in the delay of responding to your inquiry.
We have paraphrased your inquiry as follows:
Question: Are employers engaged in construction work obligated under Section 5(a)(1) (the "General Duty Clause") of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act to provide impalement protection from anchor bolts protruding from concrete?
Answer: Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires an employer to furnish to its 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 employees . . ..
There a numerous factors that would affect the extent to which anchor bolts might pose an impalement hazard. Those factors include the anchor bolt's diameter, the extent to which it protrudes from the structural component in which it is imbedded (such as footings for columns or foundation walls for sill plates), and whether employees work in an area in which they may fall into/onto the bolt. For example, with regard to this last factor, the likelihood of such exposure may be greater where the anchor bolt is at the level of a walking/working surface as opposed to being significantly above such a surface. In short, the extent to which anchor bolts might pose an impalement hazard (if any) varies considerably, and whether there would be an obligation under the General Duty Clause to provide impalement protection in a particular instance would depend on consideration of at least these factors.1
If you need any further clarification on this subject, 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.
Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction
1 In OSHA's April 24, 2006, letter to Martin E. Cawley, the Agency addressed a similar question concerning non-rebar projections. [back to text]