OSHA tightens fall protections for residential construction workers
The previous policy "permitted employers engaged in certain residential construction activities to use specified alternative procedures instead of conventional fall protection," OSHA said. "These alternative procedures could be used without a prior showing of infeasibility or greater hazard and without a written, site-specific fall protection plan."
The new guidance is based on the premise that "conventional fall protection is available and can be used safely for almost all residential construction operations," OSHA said.
The new policy requires employers engaged in residential construction to comply with 29 CFR part 1926.501(b)(13). It says workers engaged in residential construction 6 feet or more above lower levels must be protected by conventional fall protection, such as guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems. 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 the new policy. Also, "the fall protection plan's alternative measures must utilize safe work practices that eliminate or reduce the possibility of a fall."
Employers using alternative measures must have them in writing 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," OSHA said.
The new policy becomes effective June 16.
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February 3, 2011
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