Petition To Amend the Fall Protection Standard

worker-stock-photo-istock The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has petitioned OSHA to use its authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to amend it’s construction fall protection standard.

The NAHB and it’s members have developed a proposal that presents an updated approach for handling fall protection in a comprehensive and highly protective way.

As it currently reads OSHA’s Fall Protection Standard 29 C.F.R § 1926 – Subpart M. reads:

Executive Summary

This Instruction cancels OSHA Instruction STD 03-00-001, the Agency’s interim enforcement policy on fall protection for specified residential construction activities, and replaces it with new compliance guidance. Under the new policy, employers engaged in residential construction must comply with 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13).

Under 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13), workers engaged in residential construction six (6) 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). However, if an employer can demonstrate that such fall protection is infeasible or presents a greater hazard, it may implement a fall protection plan meeting 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. The plan must be written and be site-specific. A written plan developed for repetitive use for a particular style/model home will be considered site-specific with respect to a particular site only if it fully addresses all issues related to fall protection at that site.

For purposes of determining the applicability of section 1926.501(b)(13), the term “residential construction” is interpreted as covering construction work that satisfies the following two elements: (1) the end-use of the structure being built must be as a home, i.e., a dwelling; and (2) the structure being built must be constructed using traditional wood frame construction materials and methods. The limited use of structural steel in a predominantly wood-framed home, such as a steel I-beam to help support wood framing, does not disqualify a structure from being considered residential construction.

Significant Changes

This Instruction cancels OSHA Instruction STD 03-00-001, dated June 18, 1999, the Agency’s interim enforcement policy on fall protection for specified residential construction activities, and replaces it with new compliance guidance.

Employers engaged in residential construction who wish to use alternative fall protection measures must meet the requirements in 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13) and 1926.502(k).

Fall protection plans used to comply with 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13) and 1926.502(k) must be written and site-specific.

This instruction interprets “residential construction” for purposes of 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13) to include two elements: (1) a residence requirement; and (2) a wood frame construction requirement.

A letter was sent to Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor by NAHB’s Chairman of the Board, Barry Rutenberg.

To read the letter, along with the proposed changes visit http://www.nahb.org/fileUpload_details.aspx?contentID=193907

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