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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

June 27th, 2011

As most of you know, the new rules for residential fall protection are now in effect. This directive states that people working in residential construction must use conventional fall protection and can no longer use other methods such as slide guards instead when working at heights of over six feet.

OSHA is aware that implementing these changes may be difficult for some contractors. Last week OSHA announced a three month phase-in period for this directive to give contractors time to comply to these standards. Sites found violating this directive between June 16, 2011 and September 15, 2011 will NOT be fined if they are in compliance with the old directive. They will be issued a hazard letter with recommendation of how to comply to the directive.

While staying concurrent with the latest and greatest in safety improvements is an important duty, time should still be set aside to simply stop, listen, and watch. This means blocking out a minimum of thirty minutes each week to observe a crew complete a workplace activity (e.g., splicing rope, stacking pallets, vibrating concrete, rigging loads, etc.) without any interruptions.

As this is one of the biggest changes OSHA has made in recent years, it makes sense to go over a few of the details in this new directive.

  • Residential Construction is defined as a structure that will be a home or dwelling and is being constructed with predominantly wood frame materials and methods.
  • Your fall protection plan must be site-specific and in writing.
  • Acceptable fall protection options include guardrails, safety nets, a personal fall arrest system, or a personal fall restraint system.
  • Other fall protection methods may be used as long as they are allowed under OSHA standards (i.e. using warning lines on low-sloped roofs).
  • OSHA presumes that conventional fall protection on a site is feasible. Contractors must pre-plan and consider how to implement conventional fall protection whenever possible.
  • As we talked about in last month’s news letter, this directive applies to states with federal run and state-run OSHA programs.

This is a lot to deal with, but there is help! For small and medium-sized businesses, OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program provides free and confidential advice. You can also contact Guardian Fall Protection for any questions or concerns you might have regarding any fall protection standards.