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.

June 15, 2015

Joseph W. Simeo
330N. Wabash Avenue, Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60611

Dear Mr. Simeo:

Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Directorate of Construction. This is in response to your February 25, 2015, letter in which you ask about OSHA's enforcement policy with regard to fixed ladders built to certain specifications.

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.

We have paraphrased your scenario and questions below:

Scenario: A building owner desires a fixed interior ladder for roof access that would pass between the bottom and top chords of wood trusses that are 24 inches on center to access a new roof hatch. The roof hatch would be located on a low-slope roof. At the area where it would pass the truss chords, the clear space is less than 15 inches from the ladder centerline (30 inches overall width). It would be more like 11-1/4 inches from the ladder centerline, or 22-1/2 inches overall width, just for the depth of the bottom and top 2x4 chords (3-1/2 inches).

Question 1: Could this clearance deviation fall under the de minimis policy?

Answer: No. de minimis conditions are conditions in which an employer implements a measure different from one specified in a standard, but that has no direct or immediate relationship to safety or health. The Agency does not issue citations or penalties for de minimis conditions, nor is the employer required to bring the workplace into compliance, that is, there are no abatement requirements.

29 CFR 1926.1053(a)(17) - Ladders, states: Fixed ladders without cages or wells shall have a clear width to the nearest permanent object of at least 15 inches (38 cm) on each side of the centerline of the ladder.

In the situation described above, the clear space is less than 15 inches from the ladder centerline; therefore, it is a violation of the standard. The conditions present a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees because the wood trusses may create an obstruction hazard to workers who are ascending (or descending) the ladder.

Furthermore, if the fixed ladder is used in a General Industry application employers are required to comply with similar provisions in 29 CFR 1910.27(c)(2), as well as any other applicable OSHA standards.

Question 2: Is there a written document that discusses OSHA's de minimis policy?

Answer: Yes. OSHA's Field Operations Manual (FOM), CPL 02-00-150 (April 22, 2011).

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.


James G. Maddux, Director
Directorate of Construction