men working on the roof of a house

Residential Construction Fall Protection Update

Time is up for residential construction companies when it comes to fall protection. As of March 15, 2013, residential construction companies are now fully responsible for and will be held accountable for complying with the requirements of the residential construction fall protection rule set forth in 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13).

Back in June of 2011, OSHA issued a directive that rescinded the old Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction (STD 03-00-001) and would force residential construction companies to comply with 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13). OSHA decided to implement a phase-in period to allow additional time for residential construction companies to come into compliance with the new requirements. The deadline for that phase-in period was March 15th and OSHA will now fully enforce any fall protection infractions.

The rule requires residential construction companies to provide employees working 6 feet or more above a lower level with a guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest system. The directive does allow some alternatives in particular cases as outlined under 1926.501(b). Other methods, such as slide guard systems or safety monitors can still be used if you can demonstrate that it is impractical to comply with the provisions of the standard, or if it creates a greater hazard. However, those systems have to be part of a written, site-specific fall protection plan that meets the requirements of 1926.502(k) (fall protection plans).

The new directive (STD 03-11-002) includes a definition for the term “residential construction”: if the end use of the building is a home or dwelling and is constructed using traditional wood frame construction materials and methods, it is considered “residential construction”. However, the limited use of steel I-beams to help support wood framing does not disqualify a structure from being considered residential construction.

Unbelievably, residential falls accounted for nearly 29 percent of all construction fall fatalities from 2005 to 2009. This just isn’t acceptable, especially when we know that the means to protect them from falls is readily available.

Helpful Links for Residential Construction Fall Protection:

This information is provided as a service to you by Compliance Consultants, Inc.