U.S. Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for
Occupational Safety and Health
Washington, D.C. 20210

JUN 27, 2003

Mr. Edward V. Grund, CSP, P.E.
Chairman, ANSI Z117 ASC
180 E. Oakton Street
Des Plaines, IL 60018

Dear Mr. Grund:

Thank you for your May 14, 2003 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) regarding the new ANSI Confined Spaces standard,

You requested that the Z117.1 Committee web page be linked to the OSHA site at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/confinedspaces/index.html. OSHA believes it is appropriate to add the Z117.1 Committee link to the OSHA confined spaces web page, and will do so.

You asked if the specific references to the ANSI Z117.1-1989 standard from the OSHA website, which you listed as an attachment, should also include the 2003 standard? OSHA does not believe it would be appropriate to also reference the 2003 standard in these cases. Your attachment showed 8 links on the OSHA website referring to the ANSI Z117.1 standard. Four of those references were from standards interpretations, referring to ANSI Z117.1 without a reference year, and 3 were from the Federal Register publication of 29 CFR 1910.146. These documents must be maintained as originally published, because they are part of the Agency's public record. The final reference can be changed to reflect the 2003 version of the ANSI Z117.1 standard.

You also asked what the Agency position is if an employer is complying with the most recent version of a voluntary national consensus standard, when the consensus standard was previously adopted by reference or cited as a reference document during the rulemaking process. OSHA would have to consider each consensus standard on a case by case basis. Please be advised that OSHA has initiated a project that is looking at the feasibility of updating references to outdated consensus standards in the OSHA regulations. This project is listed in the current Regulatory Agenda published in the Federal Register on May 27, 2003.

Your final question was whether OSHA considered the Z117.1-2003 standard to be a viable document to use as a guideline when implementing a confined spaces program. OSHA does believe ANSI Z117.1-2003 is useful to employers developing such a program.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. Please be aware that the enforcement guidance contained in this response represents the views of OSHA at the time the letter was written based on the facts of an individual case, question, or scenario and is subject to periodic review and clarification, amplification, or correction. It could also be affected by subsequent rulemaking; past interpretations may no longer be applicable. In the future, should you wish to verify that the guidance provided herein remains current, you may consult C)SHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.


John Henshaw