Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents|
| Standard Number:||1926.501(b); 1926.501(b)(12); 1926.502(k)|
|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.|
Precast concrete erection. Each employee engaged in the erection of precast concrete members (including, but not limited to the erection of wall panels, columns, beams, and floor and roof "tees") and related operations such as grouting of precast concrete members, who is 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above lower levels shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems, unless another provision in paragraph (b) of this section provides for an alternative fall protection measure.This provision clearly states that the use of conventional fall protection for leading edge precast concrete erection work is presumed to be feasible and presumed not to create a greater hazard. It specifically places the burden on the employer to demonstrate infeasibility or greater hazard before alternative means of protection may be used.
Exception: When the employer can demonstrate that it is infeasible or creates a greater hazard to use these systems, the employer shall develop and implement a fall protection plan which meets the requirements of paragraph (k) of 1926.502.
NOTE: There is a presumption that it is feasible and will not create a greater hazard to implement at least one of the above-listed fall protection systems. Accordingly, the employer has the burden of establishing that it is appropriate to implement a fall protection plan which complies with §1926.502(k) for a particular workplace situation in lieu of implementing any of those systems. [Emphasis added.]
The new provision [§1926.501(b)(12)] requires employers who can demonstrate that the use of conventional fall protection systems would be infeasible or would create a greater hazard to implement a fall protection plan that complies with §1926.502(k) of the final rule.... The Agency considers the implementation of a fall protection plan, outlining alternative fall protection measures, to be a "last resort," allowed only where the other options for fall protection have been exhausted. [Volume 59 of the Federal Register, page 40692, August 9, 1994.]In sum, the plain language of §1926.501(b)(12) states an explicit preference for use of conventional fall protection (fall restraint or fall arrest, safety nets, or guardrails) instead of alternative fall protection measures such as a CAZ or safety monitoring system. "[T]here is a presumption that it is feasible and will not create a greater hazard to implement at least one of the above-listed fall protection systems [reference to those listed in §1926.501(b)(12)]." Furthermore, the preamble also indicates this preference when it explains that implementation of a fall protection plan, outlining alternative fall protection measures, is considered a "last resort," and permitted only where the other options for fall protection have been "exhausted."
To eliminate the need for contractors to repeatedly make the same arguments and demonstrations at each project site with regard to infeasibility or greater hazard, OSHA will accept the reasons provided in the sample fall protection plan as meeting the plan justification requirements of the standard.The Stanley memo states the current compliance policy that permits employers to use the alternative fall protection methods in Appendix E without having to meet the Subpart M burden of first demonstrating infeasibility or greater hazard. That compliance policy permits the Agency to direct its enforcement resources to issues that the Agency currently believes have higher priorities than demonstrations of greater hazard in leading edge precast erection. That memo, however, has not amended §1926.501(b)(12); such an amendment could only be made through rulemaking.
Likewise, the alternative procedures, when performed in accordance with the sample fall protection plans contained in Appendix E, are deemed as meeting the intent of the fall protection requirements of Subpart M. Only those employers who either fail to provide conventional fall protection, or fail to develop and follow a fall protection plan (such as but not limited to the sample fall protection plans in Appendix E) should be issued a citation for failure to provide fall protection. In addition, fall protection plans need to be site specific only to the extent that they address the fall hazards present at that site. One plan can cover several sites if similar conditions exist.
|Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents|
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