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.

 


August 6, 2007

Mr. Corey Thompson
National, Safety and Health Specialist
American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO
1300 L. Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

Dear Mr. Thompson:

This letter is in response to your letter of February 26, 2007, addressed to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's), Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP), regarding an alleged OSHA statement contained in the United States Postal Service (USPS) safety program. 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. Your paraphrased scenario, questions, and our responses are provided below.

Scenario: Prior to 2004, USPS developed a Maintenance Management Order (MMO-XXX-03) on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). During the development of the MMO, the following statement was incorporated in Attachment 4, Foot Protection, section titled, OSHA Requirements, second paragraph.

 

After review of the USPS safety program and accident records for USPS facilities and operations, OSHA has determined that the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) Z41-1991 compliant footwear is not required for USPS operations.

 

 

On March 29, 2007, Mr. Robert J. Brant, USPS Manager, OSHA Coordination, indicated in a phone conversation with Mr. Willie Robinson of my staff that he was unable to locate the source document for this statement, and, therefore, has indicated that USPS will remove the statement from all of their documents, including the MMO-XXX-03, Attachment 4 document. Further, he requested a copy of our response letter for their files.

Question 1: Has OSHA reviewed the USPS safety program and accident records for USPS facilities and operations and determined that ANSI Z41-1991 compliant footwear is not required for USPS operations?

Response 1: During the course of programmed and unprogrammed inspections, OSHA routinely reviews an employer's safety and health program. Prior to 2004, OSHA conducted over 450 inspections at USPS facilities. As a result, it is likely that OSHA personnel reviewed the safety program and accident records in question. However, due to the enormous inspection history, OSHA cannot determine the origin of the statement in MMO-XXX-03 regarding compliant footwear at USPS.

Please note however, that OSHA's standard addressing occupational foot protection at 29 CFR 1910.136(b)(1) is applicable only when employees use protective footwear in areas where there is a danger of foot injuries, as set forth in 29 CFR 1910.136(a), and it provides enforcement guidance by offering two options. First, the employer may comply with the criteria set forth in ANSI Z41-1991, replaced by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F2412-05 and ASTM F2413-05 (see enclosed memorandum), or second, the employer may opt to demonstrate that other criteria are equally effective. If the employer pursues the second option, then he/she does not have to comply with the consensus standards. Therefore, the burden lies on the employer to demonstrate that the footwear provided is equally as protective as the footwear that meet the ASTM F2412-05 and the ASTM F2413-05 standards.

Question 2: If OSHA has exempted USPS operations from compliance with ANSI Z41-1991, then would you provide us with the specific documentation?

Response 2: Please refer to Response 1.

Question 3: If OSHA has exempted USPS operations from compliance with ANSI Z41-1991, then would this exemption be considered a "variance"?

Response 3: No. Since 29 CFR 1910.136(b)(1) offers two options, there is no need to consider a variance.

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
Directorate of Enforcement Programs