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New OSHA Residential Construction Regulation in 2011

According to data from the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 40 workers are killed each year as a result of falls from residential roofs. As a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced new fall protection requirements for Residential Construction.

New 3-month Enforcement Phase-in 

OSHA announced June 9 a three-month enforcement phase-in period to allow residential construction employers to come into compliance with the agency's new directive to provide residential construction workers with fall protection. During the phase-in period June 16 - September 15, 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 feasible methods that can be used to comply with OSHA's 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 OSHA finds violations involving the same hazards during a subsequent inspection of one of the employer's workplaces, the Area Office will issue appropriate citations.

OSHA's Residential Fall Protection Web page has many guidance products, including a fall protection slide show to help employers comply with the new directive. Employers are also encouraged to take full advantage of OSHA's On-site Consultation Program, which provides a free compliance assistance services, or contact their local OSHA Area Office to speak with a Compliance Assistant Specialist. See the news release for more information.

Residential Fall Protection 

The new directive requires all residential builders to comply with 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1926.501(b)(13).

Under 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13) workers engaged in residential construction over six (6) feet above the ground level are to be protected by conventional fall protection. For roofers, the 25 foot, ground-to-eave height threshold no longer applies, nor do slide guards as an acceptable form of fall protection, regardless of the roof pitch or height of the roof eave.

These new requirements replace the Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction, Standard 03-00-001 that have been in effect since 1995 and allowed residential builders to bypass fall protection requirements.

Construction and roofing companies will have up to six months (June 16, 2011) to comply with the new directive. OSHA has developed training and compliance assistance materials for small employers and will host a webinar for parties interested in learning more about complying with the standard.

For more information, go to: www.osha.gov/doc/residential_fall_protection.html

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