News Release USDL: 95-512
Monday, December 11, 1995
CONTACT: Frank Kane, (202) 219-8151
OSHA Plans To Open Rulemaking On Fall Protection In Residential
Construction; Issues Interim Compliance Guidelines
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
today announced plans to initiate rulemaking on fall protection
for residential construction workers, and also is issuing
detailed interim compliance guidelines.
"Both the residential housing and roofing industries have
raised concerns about certain aspects of the current fall
protection rule," Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational
Safety and Health Joseph A. Dear noted. "Further rulemaking will
bring us more information on the fall hazards facing residential
construction workers so we can evaluate fall protection methods
suggested by various industry groups including home builders and
In the meantime, OSHA has published a directive with interim
compliance guidelines that apply to all construction conducted
using the designs, materials, methods and procedures used in
typical townhouse and single-family house construction.
"Residential construction" is not defined in the current OSHA
rule and the term is often mistakenly interpreted to cover only
townhouses and single-family homes. This interpretation is
inappropriate, according to OSHA, because construction-related
fall hazards and the measures for addressing those hazards are
determined by the nature of the work performed, not by the
ultimate use of a structure.
The final rule on fall protection in construction, published
in August 1994, became effective for all but steel erection
activities on Feb. 6, 1995. The rule requires residential
construction contractors to use a fall protection plan if they
cannot use one of the conventional means of fall protection
(guardrails, personal fall arrest systems, or safety nets).
Employers who demonstrate that it is infeasible or creates a
greater hazard to use conventional fall protection must set out
the supporting rationale in a site-specific fall protection plan,
which also spells out the alternative methods to be used to
OSHA anticipated that construction employers would want to
establish the appropriateness of alternative fall protection for
workers installing exterior wall panels, roof trusses and
rafters, roof sheathing, floor joists and trusses. Sample fall
protection language for those activities was included in Appendix
E of the OSHA final rule.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) asked that
similar consideration be given for construction employers with
employees working on top of block foundation walls, concrete
foundation walls and formwork, and installing electrical,
environmental, safety alarm and similar systems in attics and on
The directive spells out alternative methods to protect
these workers from falls. It also makes it plain that, at this
time, employers can use alternative methods in both Appendix E
and the directive without producing a written plan.
The National Roofing Contractors (NRCA) and the NAHB also
had requested that OSHA reconsider application of the standard to
residential construction roofing activities, in light of common
protective measures used in the residential construction
industry, but not recognized in the rule.
OSHA has acknowledged these recommendations and the
directive provides for the use of alternative fall protection
measures, known as slide guards, in lieu of conventional
A copy of the directive may be obtained by sending a self-addressed
label to the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA/OSHA
Publications, P.O. Box 37535 Washington, DC 20013-7535.
Telephone (202) 219-4667.