OSHA Announces 90-Day Phase-In for Fall Protection Regulations
In a recent letter to NAHB, Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, announced a three month phase-in period to give residential construction companies additional time to come into compliance with the agency’s new “Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction” directive (STD 03-11-002).
“I know that the National Association of Home Builders is committed to protecting the safety of workers in the residential construction industry,” said Michaels. “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.”
The decision was made after a May 26 meeting with OSHA’s leadership at which Barry Rutenberg, the association’s first vice chairman, and Dean Mon, chairman of NAHB’s Construction Safety and Health Committee, argued that builders needed additional time to fully understand the steps they needed to take and to properly plan for the changes in the agency’s fall protection requirements.
NAHB also stressed that there is a continued need for more fall protection training and compliance assistance for residential construction employers.
As a result, OSHA's field staff has been instructed that for the first three months in which the new directive is in effect they are not to issue fall protection citations to home builders who are using the protective measures in the old residential construction fall protection directive (STD 03-00-001).
Instead, where necessary, OSHA will issue a hazard alert letter informing the builder of the feasible methods that can be used to comply with OSHA’s fall protection standard or the need for a written fall protection plan to be implemented.
If the builder’s practices do not meet the minimum requirements set in the old directive, OSHA will issue a citation.
Additionally, if a company fails to implement the fall protection measures outlined in a hazard alert letter and during a subsequent inspection OSHA should find violations involving the same hazards, the agency will at that time issue a citation.
The three month phase-in period runs from June 16 to Sept. 15, 2011.
To read OSHA’s official announcement, click here.
Many states operate their own state occupational safety and health plans and may have adopted fall protection standards that are different from Federal OSHA. If you live in a state with an approved occupational safety and health plan, contact your local administrator or home builders association for further information on the standards applicable in your state.
A list of the OSHA “state plan states” can be found here: http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/index.html.
For more information about the three month phase-in period as well as the fall protection requirements, visit www.nahb.org/fallprotection.