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 27, 2012

Mr. Douglas D. Miller
Occupational Safety Consultants
175 Thurlow Avenue
Rochester, New York 14609

Dear Mr. Miller:

Thank you for your letter dated October 24, 2011, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for a clarification of OSHA's Walking/Working Surfaces standard, 29 CFR 1910.23. This constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original correspondence.

Your scenario and questions are paraphrased and our responses follow.

Scenario: I am writing to request an interpretation of 29 CFR 1910.23(c)(1). I have looked at letters of interpretation, as well as a memorandum (enclosed) that was sent to OSHA's Regional Administrators, dated September 29, 2009, but neither the letters nor the memorandum clearly explains the requirements for fixed ladder opening requirements.

Question: Does the opening of a fixed ladder, by which an employee steps through to gain access to another level, require a gate or equivalent protection?

Answer: Yes. The governing requirement for the guarding of ladderway floor openings and platforms is OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.23(a)(2), which states, "every ladderway floor opening or platform shall be guarded by a standard railing with standard toeboard on all exposed sides (except at entrance to opening), with the passage through the railing either provided with a swinging gate or so offset that a person cannot walk directly into the opening."

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