OSHA: Response to Query Regarding Machine Guarding Standards and the ISO/IEC

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: September 9th, 2011
Topics: Machine Guarding |

Retrieved from: Occupational Safety & Health Administration


Thank you for your September 6th letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP). You had concerns regarding machine guarding and the potential enforcement of international consensus standards, such as the International Standards Organization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) standards adopted under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT); and information concerning the National Emphasis Program on Amputations. 

In the United States, employers must comply with the occupational safety and health requirements issued under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970. Specific OSHA requirements concerning machine-guarding issues are addressed at 29 CFR 1910, Subpart O – Machinery and Machine Guarding

As you may know, OSHA does not have independent authority to enforce compliance with, or provide interpretive guidance on, the provisions included in international consensus ISO/IEC standards adopted under the GATT. The only way OSHA would enforce compliance with ISO/IEC standards is if OSHA adopted the requirements as OSHA standards through notice and comment rulemaking. At the present time, OSHA has no plans to propose to incorporate these requirements into its standards. 

In instances where ANSI standards are incorporated into OSHA standards, compliance with the ANSI standard is enforced. However, if the ANSI standards are not part of specific OSHA standards, but compliance with the ANSI standard provides equal or greater employee protection, then complying with the ANSI standard while failing to comply with the specific OSHA regulations would be considered a de minimis violation. In some cases, special situations arise when a specification type OSHA standard is compared with a revised ANSI standard which, having undergone numerous update cycles, has evolved into a performance oriented type standard. 

In addition, OSHA Instruction CPL 2-1.35, National Emphasis Program on Amputations describes policies and procedures for implementing a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to identify and reduce workplace machine hazards which are causing or are likely to cause amputations. The directive administratively revised the Program to target more types of machinery than those listed in CPL 2-1.24, National Emphasis Program on Mechanical Power Presses, and allowed the Regions and Area Offices to target and schedule inspections in workplaces that are most likely to use the selected machinery. In addition to mechanical powerpresses, the Program targets all types of power presses (including press brakes), as well as saws, shears, and slicers, because these machines account for a significant number of amputation injuries in general industry.