OSHA gets strict with residential construction

By Maria Hadlow03 June 2011

A directive from OSHA (Occupational safety and Health Administration) to protect residential construction workers from falls goes into effect June 16.

From June 16, residential construction employers will have to provide workers with the conventional fall protection required by the construction fall protection standard, issued in 1994 (29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13)). With falls still being the leading cause of death for workers in construction this directive is designed to provide residential construction workers with greater protection from being injured or killed on the job.

In December 2010, OSHA issued a new directive withdrawing an interim policy that allowed residential construction employers to use alternative procedures for worker fall protection. Under the new procedures, where residential construction employers find that traditional fall protection is not feasible or creates a greater hazard in residential environments, employers will still be allowed to implement alternative procedures that will assure worker protection after developing a written site-specific fall protection plan.

Since issuing the new directive, OSHA has developed a variety of training and compliance assistance materials in many formats that are available on OSHA's Residential Fall Protection page. The latest of these is an educational slide presentation that describes safety methods for preventing injuries and deaths from falls, and explains techniques currently used by employers during various stages of construction. These techniques involve the use of conventional fall protection systems including safety nets, guardrails, and personal fall arrest systems such as body harnesses, lanyards and lifelines.

OSHA will provide a free compliance assistance service for small businesses with fewer than 250 employees at any one facility, and no more than 500 employees nationwide.

OSHA has compliance assistance specialists in area offices throughout the US. If you have questions for the compliance assistance specialists, visit www.osha.gov/

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