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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

In 1995 OSHA issued a directive (STD 03-00-001) allowing residential construction companies to use specific alternative fall protection without showing evidence that conventional protections were infeasible or a greater hazard and without a written, site-specific plan. This directive was the result of concerns that conventional fall protection wasn’t always feasible. It was meant to be a temporary directive until more information could be gathered.

On December 22, 2010, OSHA rescinded directive STD 03-00-001, citing a lack of “persuasive evidence” that it was still needed. This means that whenever people working in residential construction are at least six feet above lower levels, they must be protected by conventional fall protection. Employers in residential construction who still want to use alternative fall protection must meet all the requirements of OSHA standard 1926.501(b)(13)and 1926.502(k). Also fall protection plans must be written out and site-specific. Falls remain the number one cause of death in the construction industry. “We cannot tolerate workers getting killed in residential construction when effective means are readily available to prevent those deaths,” OSHA Chief Dr. David Michaels said. This change is long overdue and reflects some of the changes and advances that have happened in the industry since the original directive was issued over fifteen years ago.

The new directive (STD 03-11-002) goes into effect June 16, 2011. So employers have six months to comply with this new standard. Small contractors will have the most difficulty complying with this new standard as in many cases it will require them to purchase new equipment. Such cost increases can limit a small contractor’s ability to be able to compete with larger contactors. With that in mind, Guardian Fall Protection’s new rental program might be able to help some of these contractors comply with the new directive while remaining competitive.

Over the past couple of years, OSHA has been making a lot of changes and we can expect that this isn’t the last of them.