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Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

July 11, 1995

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Goodlatte:

This is in response to your recent letters on behalf of your constituents (list attached) who have expressed concern over the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for excavation safety. I appreciate your patience and that of your constituents as we resolve their concerns.

As Mr. Roy Gurnham of my staff discussed with Ms. Moomaw of your staff, the concerns raised by your constituents are national in nature and, as a result, the time required to evaluate the problem became considerable. However, I believe the attached memorandum to our field staff reflects this effort and appropriately resolves the issue.

If you or your constituents require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact either Mr. Roy Gurnham or Mr. Dale Cavanaugh of my staff in the Office of Construction and Maritime Compliance Assistance at (202) 219-8136.

Sincerely,



Joseph A. Dear
Assistant Secretary

Enclosures



July 11, 1995

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Goodlatte:

This is in response to your recent letters on behalf of your constituents (list attached) who have expressed concern over the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for excavation safety. I appreciate your patience and that of your constituents as we resolve their concerns.

As Mr. Roy Gurnham of my staff discussed with Ms. Moomaw of your staff, the concerns raised by your constituents are national in nature and, as a result, the time required to evaluate the problem became considerable. However, I believe the attached memorandum to our field staff reflects this effort and appropriately resolves the issue.

If you or your constituents require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact either Mr. Roy Gurnham or Mr. Dale Cavanaugh of my staff in the Office of Construction and Maritime Compliance Assistance at (202) 219-8136.

Sincerely,



Joseph A. Dear
Assistant Secretary

Enclosures



List of Constituents Expressing Concern Over OSHA's
Excavation Standards Being Applied to Residential
Construction

Senator John W. Warner

W. A. Corbitt, Jr., Blue Store Block, Inc.
Richard S. Whitney, Jr., Roanoke Regional Home Builders Association.
Richard S. Whitney, Jr., Fralin and Waldron, Inc.
Thomas L. Trice, Fralin and Waldron, Inc.
Charles W. Simpson, Charles Simpson, Inc.
Roger W. Simpson, Roger W. Simpson, Inc.
Andrew L. Roberts, III, Andrew L. Roberts III Property Management.
Jerry W. Grubb, Townside Construction Co., Inc.
John G. Brock, Trademark Builders, Inc.
Steven S. Strauss, Strauss Construction
Ronald L. Willard, Willard Construction of Roanoke Valley, Inc.
Adam Cohen

Congressman Bob Goodlatte

W. A. Corbitt, Jr., Blue Stone Block, Inc.
Wayne Campbell, Campbell Construction and Development Co., Inc.
Glenn D. Clark, Clark's Quality Construction
Harold D. Coffman, H. D. Coffman, Inc.
Thomas L. Trice, Fralin and Waldron, Inc.
Charles R. Simpson, Charles R. Simpson, Inc.
Roger W. Simpson, Charles R. Simpson, Inc.
Steven S. Strauss, Strauss Construction
John G. Brock, Trademark Builders, Inc.
Jerry W. Grubb, Townside Construction Co., Inc.
Adam Cohen
Andrew L. Roberts, III
Ronald L. Willard, Willard Construction of Roanoke Valley, Inc.
Richard S. Whitney, Jr., Roanoke Regional Home Builders Association.
Robert H. Fetzer, Roanoke Regional Homebuilders Association.
Robert H. Fetzer, Building Specialists Inc.
Gary N. Feazell, F & S Building and Remodeling Corporation.




June 30, 1995

MEMORANDUM FOR:     REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS

FROM:               JAMES W. STANLEY, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY

SUBJECT:            Suspension of 29 CFR 1926.652 to House
                   Foundation/Basement Excavations
Action. Effective immediately and until further notice, 29 CFR 1926.652 shall not be applied to house foundation/basement excavations when all the following conditions are present.

* The house foundation/basement excavation is less than seven and one-half feet in depth or is benched for at least two (2) feet horizontally for every five (5) feet or less of vertical height;

* The minimum horizontal width (excavation face to formwork/wall) at the bottom of the excavation is as wide as practicable but not less than two (2) feet;

* There is no water, surface tension cracks, nor other environmental conditions present that reduce the stability of the excavation;

* There is no heavy equipment operating in the vicinity that causes vibration to the excavation while employees are in the excavation;

* All soil, equipment, and material surcharge loads are no closer in distance to the top edge of the excavation than the excavation is deep; however, when front end loaders are used to dig the excavations, the soil surcharge load shall be placed as far back from the edge of the excavation as possible, but never closer than two (2) feet.

* Work crews in the excavation are the minimum number needed to perform the work; and

* The work has been planned and is carried out in a manner to minimize the time employees are in the excavation.

This policy applies to all such house foundation/basement excavations including those which become trenches by definition when formwork, foundations, or walls are constructed. This policy does not apply to utility excavations (trenches) where 29 CFR 1926.652 shall remain applicable.

Background. When promulgated, the regulations addressing excavations were intended to cover all excavations. OSHA believed that all the affected parties had sufficient time during the public comment period and the informal public hearing (a period of over one year) to raise any concerns as to problems that could be caused by the standard. All problems that were thus identified were resolved prior to the issuance of the final rule in October 1989. Since publication of the final rule, however, the issue of basement/foundation excavations has been identified and questions have been raised concerning whether or not it is appropriate to apply the provisions to house foundation/basement excavations. OSHA believes that since the application of 1926.652 to house excavations was not specifically considered during the rulemaking, the requirements dealing with cave-in protection should be suspended until the issue can be fully evaluated.

State Plans

Regional Administrators shall provide a copy of this policy to State Designees and encourage the states to adopt a similar policy.


Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.


Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents Standard Interpretations - (Archived) Table of Contents