OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
April 12, 1994
Mr. William Shuzman
The Steel Institute of New York
211 East 43rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10017
Dear Mr. Shuzman:
Thank you for your letter dated March 2, concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) interim policy on fall protection in steel erection. I appreciate your comments.
With respect to citations for fall hazards between 10 and 25 feet, your views, along with those of other interested individuals, are being evaluated. However, at this time, I do not anticipate a change in the February 22 policy.
Thank you for your interest in this matter.
James W. Stanley
Deputy Assistant Secretary
March 2, 1994
Mr. James W. Stanley
Deputy Assistant Secretary
United States Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Washington, D.C. 20210
Re: Steel Erection Fall Protection February 22, 1994 Memorandum
Dear Mr. Stanley:
As you know, The Steel Institute of New York is an organization of consisting of approximately 200 contractors engaged in, among other things, the erection off structural steel for building and heavy construction in the New York City - Metropolitan area. We write this letter in connection with, and in response, to the above-captioned memorandum with which we were recently provided a copy.
In order to bring some consistency to the enforcement of fall protection standards throughout the country, during the summer of 1993 OSHA requested the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety & Health to forward its recommendations on an interim steel erection fall protection policy pending completion of the negotiated rulemaking process which is being employed to develop new fall protection standards. In response to this request, a sub-committee was established to conduct a hearing relating thereto. Such hearing was held on September 14, 1993 during which representatives of industry, labor & OSHA were given an opportunity to present their respective views. As you will remember, I was present at, this hearing and responded to a number of questions which you posed.
Shortly after the conclusion of this hearing, the sub-committee recommended that the full Advisory Committee adopt the following recommendations:
1. Negotiated Rulemaking for Subpart R be initiated immediately.
2. Federal uniformity and consistency in enforcement of fall protection standards.
3. That no citation shall be issued in the steel erection industry under the OSHA Act or any portion thereof or any regulation or directive promulgated under the Act for connecting activities, decking activities and employees walking to and from work stations unless the employee is not protected from a fall that would exceed two stories or 25 feet to the exterior of the structure or from a fall that would exceed two stories or 30 feet whichever is less to the interior of the structure.
4. The following are some of the normal recognized activities of employees for which citations should not be issued in accordance with #3 above:
a. Connectors either moving from place to place and/or connectors making the initial connection of structural steel columns, beams, braces, etc.
b. Bolt up personnel moving from one location to another to another to install bolts/fasteners.
c. Welders moving from one location to another to weld.
d. Plumb crew moving from one location to another to align the steel members.
e. Supervisors (foremen and pushers) moving from one location to another to supervise iron workers.
f. Decking crew either moving from one location to another and/or unloading, aligning and installing metal decking.
g. Iron workers moving from one location to another to install perimeter safety cables.
h. Rasing gang member moving from one location to another to erect structural steel.
i. Iron workers either moving from one location to another and/or spreading, laying or picking up and removing planking for temporary flooring.
j. Iron workers moving from one location to another to install and align grating, checker plate and other comparable flooring systems.
k. Iron workers moving from one location to another to install perimeter angles in connection with decking and bridge work.
l. Iron workers moving from one location to another to place, set and adjust sag rods or girts.
m. Iron workers moving from one location to another to distribute and align bar joists.
n. Iron workers moving from one location to another to install and weld bar joists and bridging.
o. Iron workers moving from one location to another to install stairways.
p. Iron workers moving from the top of a wall, shear wall or a column another work area to install reinforcing steel.
q. Iron workers in a detail gang moving from one location to another in connection with various operations involved in steel erection.
On September 30, 1993, the full Advisory Committee met, and with respect to the four recommendations set forth above, took the following action:
Recommendation #1 - Accepted unanimously.
Recommendation #2 - Accepted unanimously.
Recommendation #3 - A motion was made to revise this recommendation to read as follows:
The current promulgated 1926 OSHA standards, regarding fall protection be utilized by OSHA for enforcement and that the General Duty Clause 5(a)(1) not be used to cite fall protection violations.
The motion passed 7-6.
Recommendation #4 - A motion was made to delete this recommendation from the report. The motion carries 12-1.
On or about December 9, 1993, OSHA issued a memorandum containing its interim fall protection standard in an attempt to end inconsistent enforcement among the Regions. This memo was rescinded on or abort January 5, 1994. The instant February 22, 1994 memo followed shortly thereafter.
It is our view that the February 22, 1994 memo looses sight of OSHA's original intent as expressed last summer. The reason OSHA made its original request of the Advisory Committee was to try to end inconsistent enforcement of the steel erection standards, bring some uniformity thereto and give contractors a set of definite standard so they would know what was expected of them. Unfortunately, the instant memorandum does not fulfill that goal. Based upon the language set forth on the second page of the memorandum, contractors still do not know to which standard they will be held accountable. Furthermore, based on the indistinct language set forth therein, what might be considered acceptable in one Region, might be held to be violative of the standards elsewhere. With such uncertainty, the enforcement of fall protection standards will depend, in large measure, on the independent discretion of Regional personnel. This, we believe renders the interim standard adopted as impermissibly vague.
It is therefore our belief that negotiated rulemaking be initiated forthwith so that a definite standard can be adopted which will give clear guidelines to all contractors in every Region. Furthermore, it is requested that in order to bring some semblance of order to the situation during the interim period prior to the issuance of the final rules, OSHA adopt as its policy that which is set forth in the last paragraph of the first, page of its February 24, 1994 memorandum.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.