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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1926 Subpart L; 1926 Subpart X

February 23, 2000

Mr. Gary Larson
Scaffold Industry Association
20335 Ventura Blvd., Suite 310
Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Re: Whether Subpart L or Subpart X requirements apply to scaffold stair towers used for access to multistory buildings.

Dear Mr. Larson:

This is in response to your April 30, 1999, fax asking for clarification of OSHA's policy regarding the use of "scaffold stair towers" for access to upper floors during construction of multistory buildings. You ask us to resolve an apparent inconsistency between OSHA's February 6, 1996, letter to Mr. Saleeby and our February 1, 1999, letter to Mr. Harrell. We appreciate your calling this problem to our attention and apologize for the confusion.

29 CFR 1926 Subpart X (Stairways and Ladders) includes safety requirements for stairways. In many respects those requirements are more stringent than the requirements for scaffold stairways, which are set out in Subpart L (Scaffolds). In 1996, we addressed the issue of whether employers using scaffold stair towers for access to a multistory building (rather than just for access to the scaffold itself) would be cited if the stair towers, while in compliance with Subpart L, were not in compliance with Subpart X.

In our February 6, 1996, letter to Mr. Saleeby, we stated that, " . . . it is the policy of OSHA to not apply Subpart X to scaffold stair towers. This is OSHA's policy in construction whether a tower is part of a larger scaffold system or it is used alone as a means of access between the ground and levels of a structure."

In our February 1, 1999, letter to Mr. Harrell, we responded to a somewhat different question. That letter addressed the question of whether scaffold stairs that meet the requirements of Subpart X may be used for access to locations other than scaffold platforms. Our answer to that was yes -- "when scaffold stairs are used for access to locations other than scaffold platforms, the provisions of 1926 Subpart X apply. Consequently, scaffold stairs which meet all of the requirements of Subpart X may be used for temporary access to upper floors while constructing multistory buildings."

It was not our intention to suggest that scaffold stairs that do not meet the Subpart X requirements, but do meet Subpart L requirements, are citable. While the provisions of Subpart X do apply to scaffold stairs used for such access, the use of scaffold stair towers as a means of access between levels of a multistory structure would be a de minimis violation where the scaffold stair tower system is designed, erected and maintained in full compliance with Subpart L. De minimis violations of standards exist when an employer complies with the clear intent of the standard but deviates from its particular requirements in a manner that has no direct or immediate impact on the safety and health of workers. OSHA does not impose penalties or require correction of de minimis violations.

If you require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us again by writing to: U.S. Department of Labor/OSHA, Director of Construction, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W,. Room N3468, Washington, D.C. 20210.


Russell B. Swanson , Director
Directorate of Construction

cc: Robert Harrell

Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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