- Standard Number:
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.
November 29, 1994
The Honorable Peter W. Barca U.S. House of Representatives 1719 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Congressman Barca:
Thank you for your letter of September 16 on behalf of your constituent Mr. Rodney Hirsch concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) requirements for fall protection at residential construction sites.
Subsequent to your meetings with the residential home builders, the Agency has promulgated new regulations for fall protection at construction sites. We believe the new standard will address your constituent's questions pertaining to fall protection requirements. The rule clearly establishes where fall protection is required and allows alternative measures where providing fall protection is not feasible. Several copies of the final rule are enclosed for your information and use.
With regard to educating the industry before issuing citations please note that the Agency plans to hold numerous meetings all across the nation to discuss and answer questions on the new rules. We are also assisting the National Association of Home Builders in their efforts to help contractors comply with this rule.
With regard to your concerns on Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) please be advised that MSDS's are information bulletins about hazardous chemicals that are required under OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). Under OSHA's HCS, the MSDS's are required to be prepared by chemical manufacturers and importers for the hazardous chemical products they produce or import. They are also required to be provided to their employees and to other employers purchasing their products. In addition, MSDS's are required to be maintained in the workplace and employers are required to ensure that they are readily accessible during each workshift to employees. Also enclosed is a copy of the Hazard Communication Standard for your reference.
If we can be of further assistance, please contact Mr. Roy Gurnham or Mr. Dale Cavanaugh in the Office of Construction Compliance Assistance at (202) 219-8136. Thank you for your interest in the safety and health of the nation's workers.
Joseph A. Dear Assistant Secretary
September 16, 1994
Assistant Secretary Occupational Safety and Health Administration Department of Labor Room S2315 200 Constitution Ave. N.W. Washington, DC 20210
Dear Assistant Secretary:
I am writing on behalf of Mr. Rodney J. Hirsch, a residential home builder from the First Congressional District in Wisconsin. I have enclosed a copy of his correspondence for your review.
As you can see, Mr. Hirsch is concerned about the administration of penalties and the need for greater education efforts on the part of OSHA. His letter also relates the difficulty he has encountered in his efforts to comply with existing OSHA regulations as they related to fall protection and roof trusses.
In the past several weeks, I have been meeting with a group of residential home builders who expressed similar concerns on the difficulty they are encountering in fall protection compliance efforts as well as in the administration of material data safety sheets.
While I strongly agree with the goal of maintaining the highest level of safety at our work sites, many of the builders I have spoke with raise valid issues about the need to simplify requirements and streamline procedures. It is my belief that an enhanced level of compliance - and worker safety - will result from regulations that make sense, are workable, and are understood by those who must follow them.
Your response on this matter is appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you.
Peter W. Barca Member of Congress
July 12, 1994
Congressman Peter Barca 1719 Longworth House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
Thank you for hosting the OSHA Meeting on Tuesday, July 5th and for your follow-up letter of July 8th. I appreciate your interest in our concerns in regard to recent OSHA inspections and citation.
While the meeting was interesting and informative, I do not feel that we covered the two major issues of concern. These issues are: (1) OSHA Assessment of Citation and fines without any warnings or attempt to educate and (2) The fact that some OSHA requirements are impossible to comply with. Please allow me to explain:
1. We all know that OSHA has been in existence for a number of years. We also know that until now, OSHA has virtually ignored the residential construction industry. If OSHA is truly interested in protecting workers on residential construction sites, it seems to me that a program of education first, warnings second, and fines with citations third would be more fare and effective in achieving compliance. To jump on our industry with both feet and issue citations and large fines, just alienates contractors and gives us the impression that OSHA is only trying to find a new revenue source.
2. The fall protection rules and standards which OSHA has been enforcing are impossible to comply with on a residential construction site. The National Association of Home Builders in Washington has done extensive research on anchor points, drop loads, etc., and has determined that these rules do not work on our jobsites. I am told that OSHA in Washington has agreed and is in the process of re-writing these standards. Therefore, our local OSHA people are writing citations and issuing fines for standards with which we cannot comply! When I discussed this with a local OSHA employee, his comment to one of my concerns was that we could apply 4' X 8' sheets of roof sheathing over roof trusses from inside the building. To my knowledge this is impossible. If you would like more information on NAHB research, I invite you to contact Regina Solomon at NAHB (1-800-368-5242/number 507).
Congressman Barca, these are the types of concerns with which we need your help. I want our employees to be as safe as possible but we need education, and help with compliance, not fines and citations. We also need realistic rules and standards.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to working with you on this very important matter.
Rodney J. Hirsch, Pres.