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.

Aug 26, 2014

Dan Kane
Director of Safety Services
Diamond Tool and Fasteners, Inc.
2800 Grays Ferry Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19146-3639

Dear Mr. Kane

Thank you for your September 12, 2012, email to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Directorate of Construction. You had a specific question regarding a modular guardrail system. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of only the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated in your original correspondence.

Question: If an employer utilizes a freestanding modular guardrail system, which the manufacturer claims meets OSHA's force/strength requirements, but which is designed such that the main posts' weighted bases allow the main posts to be spaced 6" apart, would this gap be a violation of OSHA's guard rail standards?

Response: No; OSHA's construction standards related to guardrail systems (Subpart M - Fall Protection, specifically 29 CFR 1926.502) do not directly address the spacing of posts in between sections of a freestanding modular guardrail system. Similarly, OSHA's general industry standards related to guardrail systems (Subpart D Walking-Working Surfaces, specifically 29 CFR 1910.23) do not directly address the spacing of posts in between sections of a freestanding modular guardrail system. These standards, including 29 CFR 1910.23(e)(3)(ii), only refer to the spacing of posts within the guardrail assembly, which would include the top and intermediate railings, but do not address spacing of the posts in between modular guardrail system sections.

In addition, you submitted information regarding your freestanding guardrail system as well as a photograph of what appears to be a typical installation of the guardrail system. You stated that the freestanding guardrail system meets the 200 pound (890 N) force requirements required by 29 CFR 1926.502(b)(3) and 1910.23(e)(3)(iv) and that you have twice had engineering firms conduct calculations and verify compliance. Assuming the reliability of the statements made regarding the guardrail system and when installed as indicated in the photograph you provided, it appears that the 6" spacing of posts in between sections of the freestanding modular guardrail system does not violate an OSHA standard.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA's requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our letters of interpretation do not create new or additional requirements, but rather explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. From time to time, letters are affected when the Agency updates a standard, a legal decision impacts a standard, or changes in technology affect the interpretation. To assure that you are using the correct information and guidance, please consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the Directorate of Construction at (202) 693-2020.

Sincerely,

James G. Maddux, Director
Directorate of Construction