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 22, 2012

Mr. David A. Felinski
Vice President
B11 Standards, Inc.
P.O. Box 690905
Houston, TX 77269

Dear Mr. Felinski:

Thank you for your follow-up letter dated April 12, 2012, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in regard to your April 10, 2012, meeting with my staff. The issues raised at the meeting focused on the January 23, 2012, letter of interpretation you received from the Directorate of Enforcement Programs, concerning an alternate safeguarding method for press brakes.

In the letter dated January 23, 2012, OSHA stated that:

"the safe speed feature is one component of an overall laser guarding system and would not provide effective and reliable protection to workers from point of operation hazards as a primary machine guarding device. As such, we do not recognize the independent use of the safe speed feature as compliant with 29 CFR 1910.212. Use of the safe speed feature, would, however, be appropriate along with an existing safeguard, such as the laser guarding device, as long as the machine guarding eliminates worker exposure to point of operation hazards."

In your May 23, 2011, letter to OSHA, you requested comments from OSHA on the ANSI B11.3 Subcommittee's proposal to include the safe speed method as a secondary safeguarding means that supplements an existing safeguard such as a laser guarding device. You mentioned in the meeting of April 10, 2012, and in your subsequent follow-up letter, that the Subcommittee's original intent was for the safe speed method to be used in conjunction with an existing safeguard.

The ANSI B11.3 subcommittee, subsequent to this discussion, proposed that the safe speed method be used as a stand-alone method of safeguarding, only if other safeguarding methods are not technically feasible for the particular part being manufactured or the process being utilized.

The Agency has reviewed the most recent draft of the ANSI B11.3 that you provided to OSHA staff on April 6, 2012 and the information you provided at the meeting on April 10, 2012.

Following this review, we still conclude that the safe speed feature would not provide effective and reliable protection to workers from point of operation hazards as a primary machine guarding device.

As we discussed during the meeting on April 10, an employer or class or group of employers (such as members of a trade alliance or association) may request an experimental variance for a specific workplace(s). An experimental variance authorizes the employer(s) to demonstrate or validate new or improved safety and health techniques when they can prove that their proposed experimental methods, conditions, practices, operations, or processes provide workplaces that are as least as safe and healthful as the workplaces provided by the OSHA standards from which they are seeking the experimental variance. For more information on OSHA's Variance Program, please visit https://www.osha.gov/dts/otpca/variances/index.html.

We appreciate your concerns and hope you find our response to be helpful. If we can be of further assistance to you, please contact the Office of General Industry and Agricultural Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.

Sincerely,

Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs