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January 21, 2011

OSHA Revises Fall Protection Guidelines for Residential Roofers

OSHA has issued a new directive effectively requiring all residential construction employers to begin using conventional fall protection as required by the residential construction fall protection standard 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1926.501(b)(13). Construction and roofing companies will have up to six months to comply with the new directive.

The action rescinds the Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction, Standard 03-00-001. Prior to the new directive, Standard 03-00-001 allowed employers engaged in certain residential construction activities (such as roofing) to use specified alternative methods of fall protection rather than the conventional fall protection required by the residential construction standard.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 40 workers are killed each year as a result of falls from residential roofs. Where residential builders find that traditional fall protection is not feasible in residential environments, 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13) still allows for alternative means of providing protection. 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.

Some safety experts say the directive still leaves serious issues unresolved.

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