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State of Oregon
Building Codes Division Staff 
Technical Advisory

The following advice applies to current code and conditions described in the question. Applications for similar situations may have different determinations.


Structural Program


Accessible wall switches and circuit breakers


1996 Oregon Structural Specialty Code (OSSC)


Section 1108.4.8


July 2, 1996 


C. Darin Wilson, P.E., Code Specialist, (503) 373-1354


QUESTION: When and in what situations, must wall switches and circuit breakers used to control lighting, be installed to the height requirements for disabled access?

DETERMINATION: In facilities, or portions thereof, required to be accessible to persons with disabilities, staff advises that the following provisions are applicable:

  1. Wall switches used to control lighting must comply with the height requirements of OSSC Section 1109.3.2.

  2. Circuit breakers in panelboards used to control lighting, in lieu of wall switches, must comply with the height requirements of OSSC Section 1109.3.2.

  3. All other fuse/circuit breakers are not required to meet the height requirements, except fuse/circuit breakers in dwelling units of apartments required to be adaptable.

ANALYSIS: The determinations above result from staff review and analysis of OSSC Chapter 11, as follows:

  1. OSSC Section 1106.1 requires that affected buildings and covered multifamily dwellings be accessible as provided in Chapter 11, with certain occupancy specific requirements and exceptions. Section 1106.1.10.2 specifically requires adaptable dwelling units in apartments.

  2. OSSC Section 1108.4.8 requires that controls, including switches that control lighting, in accessible spaces, along accessible routes and as part of accessible elements, shall comply with 1109.3. However, floors or portions of floors not customarily occupied are not required to comply with 1108.4.8. Examples of unoccupiable spaces follow that exception. In the 1993 OSSC, this section [3108(d)8] specifically exempted main electrical panels. Staff believe that the current code still implies that main electrical panels, including fuse/circuit breakers, are not required to be accessible. They can be considered portions of floors not customarily occupied.

  3. OSSC 1110.9 requires that electrical switches and fuse/circuit breakers be accessible when installed in adaptable dwelling units.