The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a three-month phase-in period to allow residential construction employers to come into compliance with the Agency's new directive on fall protection in residential construction.
The new directive, issued in December 2010, replaces OSHA’s interim enforcement policy on fall protection (STD 03-00-001), dated June 18, 1999. Under the new policy, employers engaged in residential construction must comply with 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13).
The three-month phase-in period runs from June 16-Sept.15. During this time, if an employer is in full compliance with the old directive (STD 03-00-001), OSHA will not issue citations, but will instead issue a hazard-alert letter informing the employer of the methods they can use to comply with the fall-protection standard or implement a written fall-protection plan.
If the employer's practices do not meet the requirements set in the old directive, OSHA will issue appropriate citations.
If an employer fails to implement the fall protection measures outlined in a hazard alert letter, and during a subsequent inspection of one of the employer's workplaces OSHA finds violations involving the same hazards, the Area Office shall issue appropriate citations.
|The new directive, issued in December 2010, replaces OSHA’s interim enforcement policy on fall protection (STD 03-00-001), dated June 18, 1999.|
"We want to make sure that the residential construction industry has every opportunity to successfully come into compliance with the new directive," said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.
“I am confident that this phase-in period will provide employers the additional time and flexibility they need to alter their work practices in accordance with the requirements of the new directive.”
Rule Requires Guardrail, Safety-Net
or Personal Fall-Arrest Systems
Under 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13), workers engaged in residential construction six feet or more above lower levels must be protected by conventional fall protection (i.e., guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall-arrest systems) or other fall-protection measures allowed elsewhere in 1926.501(b).
If an employer can demonstrate that such fall protection is infeasible or presents a greater hazard, it may implement a fall-protection plan that meets the requirements of 1926.502(k). The fall-protection plan's alternative measures must utilize safe work practices that eliminate or reduce the possibility of a fall, OSHA said.
OSHA said it offers a wide variety of resources and guidance materials to assist employers in complying with the new directive. OSHA’s web page includes a number of guidance products, including a fall-protection slide show that recently received more than 3,000 hits in one week.
The agency also said employers are encouraged to take advantage of its free On-site Consultation Program. In addition, a Compliance Assistance Specialist is available in most Area Offices, and employers are urged to contact local Area Offices and use these services.
The new directive, Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction (STD 03-11-002), a detailed description of the phase-in policy, a presentation, and other guidance materials about requirements for protecting workers from falls are available Fall Protection Directive.
A Safety and Health Topics web page that provides a list of references to help employers identify fall hazards and possible solutions for eliminating such hazards is available at Fall Protection References.
OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. More information: Consultation Program.