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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 25, 2011
Ms. Norene M. Beatty
Noble Towers, Apt. 305
2440 Baldwick Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15205
Dear Ms. Beatty:
Thank you for your November 12, 2010, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding neck protection for workers using power saws. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any scenario not delineated within your original correspondence.
Your letter was a response to an incident you discovered in the news where a plumber died while he was cutting a pipe with an industrial power saw. According to the media, the saw kicked back and lacerated the plumber's throat. The saw reportedly had a guard on it, while the plumber was wearing eye and ear protection, a mask, and steel-toed boots. In your letter, you suggest that workers should be required to wear the same type of neck protectors that hockey players wear.
Thank you for your suggestion. OSHA does not have a specific policy regarding neck protection when workers use power saws. The hazard of being cut by a portable power saw is addressed, however, in various sections of OSHA's regulations. For example, many types of power saws are required to have some type of guarding and kickback protection (29 CFR 1910.243).
Employers are also required to have their employees use personal protective equipment (e.g. face shields and hard hats) wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact (29 CFR 1910 Subpart I, Personal Protective Equipment). In general, OSHA's standards set minimum safety and health requirements. OSHA's standards do not prohibit employers from adopting more stringent requirements.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. Please be aware that OSHA's enforcement guidance is subject to periodic review and clarification, amplification, or correction. Such guidance could also be affected by subsequent rulemaking. In the future, should you wish to verify that the guidance provided herein remains current, you may consult OSHA's website at www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.
Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs