After witnessing extensive house damage during severe storms in the earlier months of this year, I am fascinated at how residential roofing contractors perform the work they do. Newer houses, at least where I live, have very steep slopes – the kind that if you are not tied off or use some means to prevent falling, you likely will find yourself on the ground and not feeling so well.
Now, I knew there were some new requirements for residential contractors (not just roofers) that were coming out this year. However, I did not know how in-depth the requirements would be until I started researching the topic. And, unfortunately, I have not seen any of these requirements in use – at least not where I have paid attention.
Effective June 16, 2011, the 1999 Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction was rescinded. This means that any residential construction company that does not comply with CFR 1926.501(b)(13) is subject to receiving an OSHA violation.
What does this mean?
According to OSHA, this new policy directive implements the standard as it was originally intended. And, this applies to any contractor involved in residential construction.
Why was the guideline rescinded?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls continue to be the number one cause of construction-related fatalities in the U.S. A large number of these fatalities involve falls from roofs, but this is not the only area of concern. In 2004, the total number of fatalities from falls in residential construction was 134, with 48 of these from roofs. In 2009, these numbers dropped to 78 fatalities from falls, with 31 from roofs.
According to 1926,501(b)(13), any employee working 6’ or higher above a lower level must be protected by guardrail systems, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system. The standard offers other alternative fall protection measures (controlled access zones and control lines, covers, positioning devices, barricades, fences and covers, equipment guards, warning line system and safety monitoring system). Regardless of what system is used, all workers must be adequately protected for the exact exposure at that exact time when work is performed.
“Residential construction” is defined as construction where the end use of the structure is as a home/dwelling, and must be made construction of traditional wood frame materials. However, there is more to this than meets the eye. For specific information, I would suggest going to the OSHA presentation that specifically identifies the expectations of the standard and the various types of construction that is classified as “residential construction.”
Under the 29 CFR 1926.503 standard, employees must be trained in how to recognize fall hazards and how to minimize these hazards. The presentation shows some great examples of what type of protection should be used, and how it looks in “real-life.”
With that said, do you see residential contractors in your area following these guidelines? Are you a residential contractor, and do you adhere to the requirements?
Photo source: www.arguspacific.com
Suzanne Coleman is a Senior Risk Control Representative with Westfield Insurance. She has worked in the insurance industry for 19 years.