• Record Type:
    OSHA Instruction
  • Current Directive Number:
    STD 3.1
  • Old Directive Number:
    STD 3.1
  • Title:
    Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction.
  • Information Date:
Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA Instruction STD 3.1 December 8, 1995 Directorate of Construction

Subject: Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction.

A. Purpose. OSHA has decided to undertake further rulemaking regarding the fall protection standards for construction, 29 C.F.R. Part 1926, Subpart M, and is moving expeditiously toward the publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). This proceeding will address concerns raised by OSHA compliance personnel and by representatives of the residential construction industry. This instruction addresses the interim fall protection measures that will be acceptable for compliance with 1926,501(b)(13), residential construction, during the rulemaking period.

Subpart M does not define "residential construction." For the purposes of interim compliance guidance under this directive, the term "residential construction" applies to structures where the working environment, and the construction materials, methods, and procedures employed are essentially the same as those used for typical house (single-family dwelling) and townhouse construction. Discrete parts of a large commercial structure may come within the scope of this directive (for example, a shingled entrance way to a mall), but such coverage does not mean that the entire structure thereby comes within the terms of this directive.
This directive applies only to construction activities and does not affect any general industry activities, such as but not limited to tree trimming, that take place at residential sites.
The procedures contained in this instruction will remain in effect until further notice or until completion of a new formal rulemaking effort addressing these concerns, whichever is earlier.

B. Scope. This instruction applies OSHA-wide.

C. References.

1. OSHA Instruction CPL 2.103, September 26, 1994, Field Instruction Reference Manual.
2. OSHA Instruction STP 2.22A CH-4 March 3, 1994, changes to the State Plan Policies and Procedures Manual.

D. Action. OSHA Regional Administrators and Area Directors shall use the guidelines and procedures set forth in this instruction for the enforcement of occupational safety and health standards related to construction employment.

E. Federal Agencies. This instruction describes a change that affects Federal agencies. Executive Order 12196, Section 1-201, and 29 CFR 1960.16 maintain that Federal agencies may also follow the enforcement policy and procedures contained in this instruction.

F. Federal Program Change. This is a Federal program change which impacts State programs. States are strongly encouraged to adopt similar compliance guidelines.

1. The Regional Administrator shall ensure that this change is promptly forwarded to each State designee using a format consistent with the Change Two-way Memorandum in Appendix A, State Plan Policies and Procedures Manual (SPM).
2. The Regional Administrator shall explain the content on this change to the State designees as required.
3. The State shall notify the Regional Administrator within 30 days whether it intends to adopt a similar policy. If the State adopts identical guidelines, no further documentation is required. If the State adopts different compliance guidelines, a copy of the guidelines shall be provided to the Regional Administrator.

G. Background. On August 9, 1994, OSHA published a final rule in the Federal Register (59 FR 40671) on fall protection in the construction industry (29 CFR 1926, Subpart M) which became effective, except for steel erection activities, on February 6, 1995. The new Subpart M clarified and expanded the duty to provide fall protection for employees engaged in residential construction (1926.501(b)(13)). The rule requires 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). The rule further provides that 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 addresses the alternative measures that will be implemented to protect employees.

OSHA anticipated that construction employers who have employees installing exterior wall panels, roof trusses and rafters, roof sheathing, floor joists and trusses would seek to establish the appropriateness of alternative fall protection for affected employees. Therefore, the Agency included sample fall protection plan language for these activities in Appendix E of the final rule.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has asserted that it is appropriate, in general, to use alternative fall protection measures when employees are engaged in the activities identified by Appendix E, as well as in work on top of block foundation walls, concrete foundation walls and formwork, and work in attics or on roofs to install electrical, environmental, safety alarm and similar systems. Accordingly, the NAHB has stated that residential construction employers should not be required to make case-by-case determinations, through fall protection plans that comply with 1926.502(k), that it is appropriate to use alternative fall protection measures in those situations. In short, the NAHB states that an employer should simply be able to implement the alternative measures without producing a written plan or other documentation.
Paragraphs 1926.501(b)(10) and (b)(11) address fall protection for employees performing roofing work on low-slope roofs and for employees on steep-slope roofs, respectively. Paragraph (b)(10) specifically allows employers to use alternative fall protection measures for employees on low-slope roofs without having to develop a fall protection plan. Paragraph .501(b)(11) provides for the use of conventional fall protection in all steep slope roofing work, except in residential construction, where 1926.501(b)(13) has been interpreted to allow the employer who has employees performing low or steep slope roof work on a "residence" to have the option of demonstrating that it is appropriate to protect employees from fall hazards through alternative measures.
The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) and the NAHB have requested that OSHA reconsider how the standard would be applied to residential construction roofing activities, taking into account protective measures which, while not recognized by Subpart M, are commonly used in the residential construction industry.
OSHA acknowledges that the above-discussed concerns merit further consideration by the Agency. Therefore, OSHA has determined that it is appropriate to initiate further proceedings regarding Subpart M so that the Agency can reevaluate what constitutes adequate fall protection for various construction operations. OSHA is moving expeditiously to develop an NPRM. In particular, further proceedings will provide an opportunity to update OSHA's information regarding the fall hazards to which residential construction workers are exposed. This, in turn, will enable the Agency to evaluate the alternative methods and procedures suggested by roofing contractors for residential roofing work. During this period, the policies set forth below will be in effect. To use alternative measures in circumstances other than those addressed by the following, the terms of 1926.501(k) must be met and a written fall protection plan must be developed.

H. Interim Policy for Residential Construction. In addition to the fall protection measures set under 1926.501(b)(13) for residential construction, implementation of the measures described in Appendix E to Subpart M for installing floor joists and sheathing, erecting exterior walls, setting and bracing roof trusses and rafters, and installing roof sheathing, will be considered to comply with Subpart M even though a fall protection plan that complies with 1926.502(k) is not in place. In addition, employers are allowed to implement alternative measures for employees exposed to fall hazards while working on concrete and block foundation walls and related formwork and in attic and roof areas, without a fall protection plan that complies with 1926.502(k), as follows:

1. Foundation Walls: The contractor shall take the following steps to protect workers who are exposed to fall hazards while working from the top surface of block foundation walls and concrete foundation walls and related formwork:
* Only trained workers shall be allowed to work on the top of the foundation wall/formwork and only as necessary to complete the construction of the wall.
* All formwork shall be adequately supported before any worker can work on top of the formwork.
* When adverse weather (such as high winds, rain, snow, or sleet) is creating a hazardous condition, operations shall be suspended until such time as the hazardous condition no longer exists unless safe footing can be ensured for workers on top of the foundation wall/formwork.
* Materials and equipment for the work being performed shall be conveniently located to the workers on the top of the foundation/formwork.
* Materials and other objects which could pose impalement hazards shall be keep out of the area below where workers are working or they shall be properly guarded.
2. Attics and Roofs: The contractor shall take the following steps to protect workers installing drywall, insulation, HVAC systems, electrical systems (including alarms, telephone lines, and cable TV), plumbing, and carpentry, who are exposed to fall hazards while working in attics or on roofs (Note: the application of shingles, tile, and other waterproofing materials is covered in paragraph I. below):
* Only trained workers shall be allowed to work in attics and on roofs and only as necessary to complete the construction of the system being installed.
* Materials and equipment for the work to be performed shall be located conveniently close to the workers.
* Materials and other objects which could pose impalement hazards shall be keep out of the area below where workers are working or they shall be properly guarded.
* While attic or roof work is in progress, workers not involved in such work shall not stand or walk below or adjacent to any openings in the ceiling where they could be struck by falling objects.
* When adverse weather (such as high winds, rain, snow, or sleet) is creating a hazardous condition, operations shall be suspended until such time as the hazardous condition no longer exists unless safe footing can be ensured for workers on top of the roof.

I. Interim Policy for Residential Construction Roofing Work. In addition to the fall protection measures set under 1926.501(b)(10) and (11)for roofing work, implementation of the measures described below will be considered to comply with Subpart M during residential construction roofing work (including roofing removal, repair, and new roofing installation) where the roof slope is 8 in 12 or less and the eave to lower level fall distance is 25 feet or less.

1. Employers who do not use conventional fall protection systems during roofing work shall take the following steps:
* Only workers who have been trained to be proficient in the alternative methods of fall protection used to minimize fall hazards shall be allowed onto the roof. In addition, employers shall have each affected employee trained to ensure they have specific awareness of the fall hazards associated with work on roofs with rake edges (the term "rake edges" means roof edges that are inclined such as on the gable end of a building).
* The employer shall have roof surfaces inspected for slipping hazards and shall either eliminate any such hazards or take effective measures to have workers avoid them;
* The employer shall have workers wear appropriate footwear to reduce slipping potential;
* When adverse weather (such as high winds, rain, snow, or sleet) is creating a hazardous condition, roofing operations shall be suspended until such time as the hazardous condition no longer exists;
* The employer shall have any damaged portions of the roof deck repaired as soon as practicable, and any holes (including skylight openings) or other areas where employees would not have safe footing shall be covered or surrounded by guardrails that comply with the requirements of 1926.502);
* Except as noted, employees shall be protected by a safety monitoring system which complies with the provisions of 1926.502, or they shall be protected by roofing slide guards (roof jacks (or equivalent supports) with minimum 2"X 6"(nominal) planks) installed in accordance with paragraph 2 below. Note: during roofing installation, the employer may use a safety monitoring system only on roofs where the slope is 4 in 12 or less, or where tile or metal roofing is being installed, the slope is 8 in 12 or less.
* If ladders or scaffolds are used, they shall be erected and maintained in accordance with the requirements of Subparts X and L of OSHA's construction standards. In addition, employees shall be trained in accordance with the requirements of Subparts X & L.
* Employers shall not allow workers to ascend or descend the roof's slope within 6 feet of the rake edge except where such a limit on movement would prevent the performance of work.
* Supplies and materials shall not be stored within 6 feet of the rake edge, or three feet where tile roof systems are being installed.
* The area below the eaves and rakes shall be kept clear of materials and other objects which could pose impalement or other hazards or they shall be properly guarded.
2. Employers who use roofing slide guards as fall protection during the performance of roofing work shall take the following steps in addition to those in Section 1. above:
* On roofs with slopes less than or equal to 6 in 12, roofing slide guards shall be installed continuously along the eave. To accomplish this, not more than three (3) rows of roofing material shall be applied first. Then, the roof jacks (or equivalent supports) shall be installed using nails long enough to hold the slide guard in place should an employee slide down the roof and contact the slide guard. The angle of the slide guard system shall be approximately 90 degrees (plus or minus 10 degrees) to the roof.
* On roofs with slopes greater than 6 in 12 up to and including 8 in 12, eave slide guards shall be installed and additional slide guards shall be installed below the work area at intervals not to exceed eight feet. To install the slide guards, the employee, while standing on the plank below, shall secure the roof jacks with nails and then install the planks. The employee then can climb up to the plank and continue to install the roof. Although the eave slide guards must run the entire eave's length, and must be at approximately a 90 degrees angle (plus or minus 10 degrees) to the roof, higher slide guards need only be long enough to provide protection below the area of the roof where work is being performed and may be more level, if desired. Once the roof is installed to the ridge, the employee will climb down to the lower plank and remove the planks and roof jacks from the higher level. The employee shall continue this process down the roof until all planks and roof jacks are removed. Only when the job is completed can the remaining eave planks and roof jacks be removed.
* On roofs with slopes greater than 8 in 12 and on roofs with slopes greater than 4 in 12 where the eave to lower level fall distance is more than 25 feet, employers shall have workers use one of the conventional methods of fall protection (i.e., safety nets, guardrails, or personal fall arrest systems), as provided in 1926.502.

J. Citations:

Failure to provide fall protection in accordance with any part of this directive shall be cited as a violation of 1926.501(b)(13).

Joseph A. Dear Assistant Secretary
Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.