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• Standard Number: 1926.501(b)(9); 1926.502(g); 1926.502(g)(3); 1926.502(g)(2); 1926.501(b)(4)


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.


March 10, 2004

Mr. Luis M. Moreno
7108 NW 73rd Street
Tamarac, FL 33321

Re: Fall protection and controlled access zones in overhand bricklaying and related work; 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(4) and (9), 1926.502(g)

Dear Mr. Moreno:

This is in response to your letter faxed on August 24, 2003, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You ask about the criteria for controlled access zones and fall protection in overhand bricklaying and related work. We apologize for the delay in responding.

We have paraphrased your questions as follows:

Question 1: At what height is conventional fall protection required to protect masons doing overhand bricklaying and related work?

Answer
29 CFR 1926.501(b)(9) sets forth the requirements for overhand bricklaying and related work:
(i) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (b) of this section, each employee performing overhand bricklaying and related work 6 feet (1.8m) above lower levels, shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, or shall work in a controlled access zone.
(ii) Each employee reaching more than 10 inches (25 cm) below the level of the walking/working surface on which they are working, shall be protected from falling by a guardrail system, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system.
Where a mason performs overhand bricklaying and related work 6 feet above lower levels, the requirements for fall protection systems can be satisfied by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, or by creating a controlled access zone in which the mason works. However, controlled access zones are not permitted where the mason is reaching more than 10 inches below the level of the walking/working surface on which he is working. In that instance conventional fall protection such as a guardrail system, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system is required to be used.

Question 2: Is a painted solid line with appropriate signs sufficient to demarcate a controlled access zone when doing overhand bricklaying?

Answer
The criteria for creating a controlled access zone is stated in §1926.502(g):
(3) Control lines shall consist of ropes, wires, tapes, or equivalent materials and supporting stanchions as follows:
(i) Each line shall be flagged or otherwise clearly marked at not more than 6-foot (1.8 m) intervals with highvisibility material.
(ii) Each line shall be rigged and supported in such a way that its lowest point (including sag) is not less than 39 inches (1 m) from the walking/working surface and its highest point is not more than 45 inches (1.3 m) [50 inches (1.3 m) where overhand bricklaying operations are being performed] from the walking/working surface.
(iii) Each line shall have a minimum breaking strength of 200 pounds (.88 kN).
(4) On floors and roofs where guardrail systems are not in place prior to the beginning of overhand bricklaying operations, controlled access zones shall be enlarged, as necessary, to enclose all points of access, material handling areas, and storage areas.
(5) On floors and roofs where guardrail systems are in place, but need to be removed to allow overhand bricklaying work or leading edge work to take place, only that portion of the guardrail necessary to accomplish that day's work shall be removed.
A painted line with signs would not fit the requirements for a control line as outlined above, since it is neither elevated nor would it serve as a physical reminder to a worker - in contrast to an elevated line with a minimum breaking strength of 200 pounds. A control line that meets these requirements will prevent non-overhand bricklaying employees from inadvertently entering the area immediately adjacent to the fall hazard. Such a control line will, for example, warn workers who inadvertently back into it that they must stop.

Also, an elevated control line that meets the requirements in §1926.502(g) will be highly visible. A painted line on the walking/working surface will obviously not be felt by a worker who is walking backwards, and is not as visible as an elevated line.
1

Question 3: Scenario: a mason lays block on the edge of a structure. Is a solid line painted 6 feet from the structure's edge an adequate distance to create a controlled access zone?

Answer
No. First, as discussed above, a painted line is not permitted as a substitute for an elevated control line. Second, the criteria to erect a controlled access zone for overhand bricklaying as stated in §1926.502(g)(2) are:
(2) When used to control access to areas where overhand bricklaying and related work are taking place:
(i) The controlled access zone shall be defined by a control line erected not less than 10 feet (3.1m) nor more than 15 feet (4.5m) from the working edge.
(ii) The control line shall extend for a distance sufficient for the controlled access zone to enclose all employees performing overhand bricklaying and related work at the working edge and shall be approximately parallel to the working edge.
(iii) Additional control lines shall be erected at each end to enclose the controlled access zone.
(iv) Only employees engaged in overhand bricklaying or related work shall be permitted in the controlled access zone. [Emphasis added.]
By its terms, the standard requires that the control line must be not less than 10 feet and no more than 15 feet from the working edge. The additional requirements stated in §1926.502(g) must also be met in order to create a controlled access zone.

Question 4: Scenario: masons are laying concrete block at the edge of a structure. In some areas near the edge where that work is being done, there is a stair opening that will not have a wall around it. Also, in an area away from the edge, there is another stair opening which also will not have walls around it. Is it sufficient to demarcate a controlled access zone around those openings with a painted line, or must other means of fall protection be used around the unprotected stair openings?

Answer
As discussed in the previous questions, a painted line is insufficient to create a controlled access zone. In addition, in the scenarios you describe, stair openings pose distinct hazards from those of overhand bricklaying operations. Section 1926.501(b)(9) states that:
(9) Overhand bricklaying and related work. (i) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (b) of this section, each employee performing overhand bricklaying and related work 6 feet (1.8m) or more above lower levels, shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, or shall work in a controlled access zone. [Emphasis added.]
As indicated in the preamble, the purpose of this part of the provision was to require overhand bricklaying workers to be protected by conventional fall protection from fall hazards such as holes:
Controlled access zones are not permitted to be used as protection for employees performing overhand bricklaying and related work who are exposed to fall hazards associated with hoist areas; holes; ramps; runways, and other walkways, and dangerous equipment. In these situations, fall protection must be provided by compliance with the paragraphs addressing the specific hazard.... For example, a worker performing overhand brick laying work near a floor hole would have to be protected as required by paragraph (b)(4) even when the hole is located within the area marked by a control line.
Holes are defined in §1926.500:
Hole means a gap or void 2 inches (5.1 cm) or more in its least dimension, in a floor, roof, or other walking/working surface.
Section 1926.501(b)(4) states:
(4) Holes.
(i) Each employee on walking/working surfaces shall be protected from falling through holes (including skylights) more than 6 feet (1.8 m) above lower levels, by personal fall arrest systems, covers, or guardrail systems erected around such holes.
(ii) Each employee on a walking/working surface shall be protected from tripping in or stepping into or through holes (including skylights) by covers.
(iii) Each employee on a walking/working surface shall be protected from objects falling through holes (including skylights) by covers.
A worker performing overhand bricklaying work near a floor hole, such as the stair opening you describe, would have to be protected as required by §1926.501(b)(4)(Holes) even where the hole is located within the area marked by a control line. We have therefore forwarded your letter to the Parsippany Area Office, 299 Cherry Hill Road, Cherry Hill, NJ 07054, (973) 263-1003 and asked that office to contact you.

If you need additional information, please contact us by fax (202-693-1689) at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance. You can also contact us by mail at U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.

Sincerely,

Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction


1It is important to note that controlled access zones are not permitted to be used as protection for employees performing overhand bricklaying and related work who are exposed to fall hazards associated with hoist areas, holes, ramps, runways and other walkways, and dangerous equipment. In these situations, fall protection must be provided by compliance with the paragraphs addressing the specific hazard. For example, a worker performing overhand bricklaying work near a floor hole would have to be protected as required by paragraph (b)(4) even when the hole is located within the area marked by a control zone line. [
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