OSHA Again Postpones Fall Enforcement Regulations for Residential Construction

January 31st, 2013

The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has listened to the roofing industry’s request to delay the start date of enforcing regulation 03-11-002. OSHA’s temporary enforcement measures have now been extended until March 15, 2013.â?¨

Many in the industry believe the proposed changes in fall protection regulations would negatively affect residential construction contractors. While most view the new regulations as a step in the right direction, it believes that the standards still need work to create truly practical regulations that protect workers from falls. The Industry would like to see one set of rules that applies to homebuilders and another set that is better suited to commercial roofing contractors. â?¨

OSHA initially issued STD 03-11-002, Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction, on December 16, 2010. This was official notice that OSHA planned to proactively enforce the fall protections established by its directive 29 CFR 1926.501 (b) (13), which applies to residential roofing contractors.

Contractors have been given reprieves from OSHA before on enforcement of the new, more stringent fall protection regulations. They were initially to have gone into effect on Sept. 15, 2011, but an extension was issued with temporary enforcement measures. When these regulations expired on March 15, 2012, they were extended until September 15, 2012. OSHA then announced a second extension, which kept the ruling in effect until December 15, 2012. Now the start date for OSHA’s temporary enforcement measures has again been extended, this time until March 15, 2013

OSHA says it is giving roofing contractors time to make the new fall measures standard practice before enforcing the tougher penalties. This means contractors must obey the guidelines now, but enforcement penalties will be reduced and OSHA will provide free on-site compliance assistance during the interim period.

According to OSHA, workers engaged in residential construction six feet or more above lower levels must be protected by conventional fall protection including guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems or other fall protection measures. Prior to this mandate, OSHA allowed contractors to use alternate fall protection methods such as slide guards, and cleats, rather than more rigorous safety methods such as safety nets and fall arrest systems.

In order to comply with these OSHA measures, many roof contractors will have to purchase extra equipment. Such costs may well be figured into project estimates, and partially passed on to customers. A homeowner, while listening to a roofer’s service and product offerings – color and features of the shingles or the desired underlayment – should remember to ask the roofing contractor about worker safety precautions that will be used on the project. Homeowners need to be aware that safety procedures can take time and have patience because that new roof might take slightly longer to complete.

Atlas Roofing reminds all roofing contractors about the important responsibility they have to make sure their job sites are safe and their roofers are working as safely as possible on each roof installation. This means proper training and experience for roofers, and following the newly revised OSHA safety guidelines.