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

Mr. Lewis Candler
1820 Waiola St. Apt. PH707
Honolulu, HI 96826

Dear Mr. Candler:

Thank you for your May 16, 2014, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. You ask about the concrete and masonry construction standards, 29 CFR § 1926, Subpart Q, and the strength requirements for devices used to guard reinforcing steel.

Question: Section 1926.701(b) requires all protruding reinforcing steel, onto and into which employees could fall, to "be guarded to eliminate the hazard of impalement." In addition, OSHA issued a memorandum, dated January 15, 1997, stating that protective devices used to guard protruding reinforcing steel should be capable of withstanding at least 250 pounds dropped from a height of ten feet. At my jobsite, no one works from an elevated height over protruding reinforcing steel (all work is performed on the same level as the reinforcing steel). The reinforcing steel we use extends vertically from the work surface to heights of 22 to 31 inches. I believe that a protective device that meets a 250-pound drop test is excessive in this case. Does OSHA require a 250-pound drop test in my situation?

Answer: 29 CFR 1926.701(b) is a performance standard that states:

All protruding reinforcing steel, onto and into which employees could fall, shall be guarded to eliminate the hazard of impalement.

The standard does not prescribe the method an employer must use to guard reinforcing steel to eliminate the hazard of impalement. OSHA believes that protective devices capable of withstanding at least 250 pounds dropped from a height of ten feet will eliminate the hazard of impalement in most cases. However, as long as a protective device guards protruding reinforcing steel to eliminate the hazard of impalement, it satisfies the requirements of the standard. For additional information on impalement hazards for employees working at the same grade as the reinforcing steel, see a 1997 memorandum found at,

https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=22421

and a 2005 letter to Mr. Peter Kuchinsky, II at,

https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=25067

The state of Hawaii administers its own OSHA-approved occupational safety and health program, or state plan, through the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health (HIOSH) program of the Hawaii Department of Labor & Industrial Relations. HIOSH adopts and enforces standards, under authority of state law, that are ⿿at least as effective⿝ as those enforced by federal OSHA. We encourage you to contact HIOSH or HIOSH consultation for further guidance.

Department of Labor & Industrial Relations
Occupational Safety and Health
830 Punchbowl Street #423
Honolulu, HI 96813
HIOSH Telephone: (808) 586-9110
HIOSH Consultation Telephone: (808) 586-9100

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.

Sincerely,

James G. Maddux, Director
Directorate of Construction