Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1926.502; 1926.502(h); 1926.502(h)(1); 1926.502(h)(1)(i); 1926.502(h)(1)(ii); 1926.502(h)(1)(iii); 1926.502(h)(1)(iv); 1926.502(h)(1)(v); 1926.502(k); 1926.501(b)(10); 1926.501(b)(13)

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 30, 2004

MEMORANDUM FOR: JOHN MILES, REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR

ATTN: ROGER F. BANAITIS

FROM: RUSSELL B. SWANSON, DIRECTOR
DIRECTORATE OF CONSTRUCTION

SUBJECT: RESIDENTIAL FALL PROTECTION STANDARD -- [STD 03-00-001 (formerly STD 3-0.1A)]

This is in response to an e-mail from Roger Banaitis of your office to Noah Connell dated June 15, 2004, on behalf of Elias Casillas, a Compliance Assistance Specialist. Mr. Casillas was contacted by Renee Butler, an employer in your region, regarding STD 3-0.1A. We have paraphrased Mr. Butler's questions as follows:

Question 1(a): The requirement of a safety monitor is mentioned in both the Alternative Procedures for Group 1 and Group 4 activities in STD 3-0.1A. What are the requirements/ qualifications applicable to the safety monitor under these Procedures?

Answer: STD 3-0.1A(IX)(A)(3)(b) states:

IX. ALTERNATIVE PROCEDURES FOR GROUP 1: INSTALLATION OF FLOOR JOISTS, FLOOR SHEATHING; ERECTING EXTERIOR WALLS; SETTING AND BRACING ROOF TRUSSES AND RAFTERS.

The alternative measures for this group are set out in Appendix E to Subpart M. Appendix E requires the employer to implement a Fall Protection Plan. Such a plan must lay out the safest procedures to be followed at the work site to prevent falls. Although the plan need not be in writing, it must be communicated to all employees on site who might be subject to fall hazards.

NOTE: Height Limitation: The Appendix E plan may only be used on structures up to three and a half stories or 48 feet (including basement, two finished levels, attic). The 48' measure is from the base of the building, at the lowest ground level (including any excavation), to the point of greatest height. The following are the required elements of the Plan:

A. General Requirements For Group 1 Activities. Training, Implementation/Supervision By Designated Individuals, Controlled Access Zones, Plan Administration (required for all Group 1 activities).
* * *
(3) Controlled Access Zones. For purposes of this Instruction, a Controlled Access Zone (CAZ) restricts access to a clearly designated area where a Group 1 activity is taking place. The CAZ must meet the following requirements:
* * *
(b ) Monitor. The crew supervisor/foreman shall monitor the workers in the CAZ to ensure that they do not engage in unsafe practices.

Employers performing Group 1 residential construction activities must implement a Fall Protection Plan which includes, among other provisions, guidelines for working in a Controlled Access Zone (CAZ). According to STD 3-0.1A, to utilize a CAZ, a designated crew supervisor/foreman must monitor the workers in the CAZ to ensure that they do not engage in unsafe practices ( i.e., approaching the unprotected edge).

Although the directive does not specify particular qualifications for this monitor (other than he/she must be a supervisor or foreman), an employee working as a monitor will not be able to ensure that the CAZ workers do not engage in unsafe practices unless the monitor is competent in identifying fall hazards.

Additionally, STD 3-0.1A(XII)(B) states:

XII. ALTERNATIVE PROCEDURES FOR GROUP 4: ROOFING WORK (REMOVAL, REPAIR, OR INSTALLATION OF WEATHERPROOFING ROOFING MATERIALS SUCH AS SHINGLES, TILE AND TAR PAPER).

Restriction on Application for Roofing Work. The alternative procedures in this Instruction may only be used for this work where: (a) the roof slope is 8 in 12 or less, and (b) the fall distance, measured from the eave to the ground level, is 25 feet or less.
* * *
(B). Safety Monitors and Slide Guards (for roofs with an eave height of up to and including 25 feet).
1. Roof slope (Any Roof Type): Up to 4 in 12. The employer must use either a safety monitoring system that complies with §1926.502, or roofing slide guards. If slide guards are used, they must be built and installed in accordance with the requirements set out below. [Emphasis added.]

Employers who are performing Group 4 residential roofing work activities on roofs with an eave height of up to and including 25 feet and a roof slope up to 4 in 12 are required to provide fall protection in the form of either a safety monitoring system that complies with §1926.502 or slide guards. Section 1926.502(h) contains the provisions relating to the proper use of a safety monitoring system and the responsibilities of the designated safety monitor. When using a monitor, the requirements of §1926.502(h) apply. One of those requirements is that a safety monitor must be designated, competent in identifying fall hazards, and have the authority to take prompt corrective measures.

Question 1(b): Is it permissible for one safety monitor to oversee employees working at several different homes/locations, or must there be a safety monitor stationed at each location? Furthermore, is a safety monitor restricted to solely monitoring the other employees or may he/she also perform other work tasks?

Answer: As indicated above, STD 3-0.1A requires that an employer who is performing Group 1 residential construction activities and utilizing a CAZ must designate a crew supervisor/foreman who shall monitor the workers in the CAZ to ensure that they do not engage in unsafe practices. The Directive specifies that the safety monitor must be able "to ensure that [the workers] do not engage in unsafe practices" (i.e., approach the unprotected edge).

This requirement cannot be met unless the monitor is both: (1) sufficiently close to the workers to view, whether they are approaching an unprotected edge or engaging in unsafe practices, and (2) can effectively communicate a warning to the workers if they approach that edge or engage in those practices. As a practical matter, it is unlikely that this will be the case where the workers are on a home/location that is different than the one the monitor is on.

The Directive does not specifically restrict safety monitors from performing work tasks while also serving as the monitor. However, the monitor must be able to perform the tasks without interference with his/her ability to ensure that employees in the CAZ do not approach too close to an edge or engage in other unsafe practices.

Note that STD 3-0.1A requires that employers performing certain roofing work (Group 4 activities) either use a safety monitoring system pursuant to §1926.502(h) or slide guards to protect workers from fall hazards. Section 1926.502(h) states:

(h) Safety monitoring systems. Safety monitoring systems [See §§1926.501(b)(10) and 1926.502(k)] and their use shall comply with the following provisions:
(1) The employer shall designate a competent person to monitor the safety of other employees and the employer shall ensure that the safety monitor complies with the following requirements:
(i) The safety monitor shall be competent to recognize fall hazards;
(ii) The safety monitor shall warn the employee when it appears that the employee is unaware of a fall hazard or is acting in an unsafe manner;
(iii) The safety monitor shall be on the same walking/working surface and within visual sighting distance of the employee being monitored;
(iv) The safety monitor shall be close enough to communicate orally with the employee; and
(v) The safety monitor shall not have other responsibilities which could take the monitor's attention from the monitoring function.

Therefore, safety monitors overseeing roofing work covered in STD 3-0.1A for Group 4 activities are not permitted to monitor more than one house or building because, under §1926.502(h)(1)(iii), the safety monitor would be considered to be monitoring more than one walking/working surface.

If the safety monitor is overseeing more than one area on a roof of the same structure, the determination would be based on whether he/she is within continuous sight of the employee(s) being monitored (both in terms of line of sight and sufficiently close to effectively see what the workers are doing and their proximity to hole and roof edges) and close enough to orally communicate with the employee(s) pursuant to § 1926.502(h)(1)(iii) and (iv). Lastly, pursuant to §1926.502(h)(1)(v), a monitor would be permitted to perform certain tasks while monitoring the work area, but only if these additional responsibilities did not shift the monitor's attention from the his/her primary duties as a safety monitor.

Question (2)(a): Does STD 3-0.1A allow employees to walk the top plate of a braced wall to spread and install floor joists/trusses?

Answer: No. The installation of floor trusses is a Group I (c) activity in STD 3-0.1A. The directive describes a specific procedure for installing floor joists/trusses:

The first floor joists or truss must be rolled into position and secured by workers on the ground, ladders or sawhorse scaffolds. Successive joists/trusses must be rolled into place. Then they are secured from a platform. The platform is to be built from a sheet of plywood laid over the previously secured floor joists/trusses.

Under this procedure, employees are not allowed to walk the top plates of secured walls to install floor trusses. The procedure specifically states that the workers must be "on the ground, ladders or sawhorse scaffolds" or work from a platform.

Question (2b): In my opinion this procedure is not feasible. It is my understanding that employees are permitted to walk the top plate when installing roof trusses. Why can't the employees do the same thing when installing floor joists/trusses?

Answer: As explained in the answer to Question (2)(a) above, employees are not permitted to walk an exterior top plate when installing floor joists/trusses.

With regard to installing roof trusses, STD 3-0.1A provides alternate procedures to the conventional fall protection requirements in §1926.501(b)(13) for structures within the scope of the directive. Group I of the listed activities includes:

Installation of floor joists, floor sheathing, and roof sheathing; erecting exterior walls; setting and bracing roof trusses and rafters. [Emphasis added.]

Section (IX)(B)(1)(b)(2) of the directive states the procedures for walking on the "top plate," which, as can be seen from the language of the directive, refer to interior, not exterior top plates. This section of the directive states:

(a) Installing The First Two Trusses The first two trusses/rafters must be set from ladders. The ladders must lean on side walls at points where the walls can support the load imposed by the ladder and worker. After the first two trusses/rafters have been set, a worker will climb a ladder onto the interior top plate to secure their peaks.
(b) Remain On The Top Plate Workers will remain on the top plate and use the previously stabilized trusses/rafters as support while the other trusses/rafters are erected.

Under the terms of these provisions, employees are not permitted to work from the exterior top plate when installing roof trusses. STD 3-0.1A establishes a specific procedure for installing roof trusses. It requires that the first two trusses be set from ladders and that the employees setting the trusses then climb onto the interior top plate to secure their peaks. The workers are then to "remain on the top plate and use the previously stabilized trusses/rafters as support while the other trusses/rafters are erected." [Emphasis added.]

The Directive thus states that the employees must climb from the ladder onto the interior top plate, and remain on that top plate -- which is an interior top plate. No mention is made in the directive of working from an exterior top plate, which, therefore is not permissible.

Question (3): The activity of "spreading" trusses during roofing activities does not appear to be addressed by the OSHA Directive STD-3.0.1A ("Directive"). Typically, to install trusses, two or more employees walk the top plate and spread the trusses along the length of the building. The trusses are stacked so that one truss's peak is supported by another truss's cross brace (see concept illustration below):

Trusses stacked so that one truss's peak is supported by another truss's cross brace

Workers then use the trusses as a platform to walk on to get to the truss that will next be secured. Is this process, as described, permissible under the Directive?

Answer: As explained above, the installation of roof trusses is addressed in the Directive. Group 1 of the listed activities includes:

Installation of floor joists, floor sheathing, and roof sheathing; erecting exterior walls; setting and bracing roof trusses and rafters. [Emphasis added.]

Section IX of the Directive notes general requirements and alternative procedures available for Group I activities, as well as specific height criteria 1 that limit its application. Training requirements, implementation and supervision requirements, the use of Controlled Access Zones, and plan administration are addressed. Most significantly, Section IX sets forth the procedures for installing roof trusses. Section IX.B.1. provides:

1. Installing Roof Trusses * * *
a. Walls Up to 8 feet. Interior scaffolds must be installed along the interior wall, below the area where the trusses/rafters will be located. * * *
b. Walls Over 8 feet. If using scaffolds and ladders throughout the process would create a greater hazard, the following general requirements and specific procedures apply. [Emphasis added.]
(1). Walls over 8 feet. General requirements.
(a)* * *
(b) Bracing. Trusses/rafters must be adequately braced before any worker may use them as a support. [Emphasis added.]
(c) Designated, Trained Workers. The employer must designate the trained workers who will work on the top plate, and those who will work on the peak.
(d) Restricted Duties. Top plate workers shall have no other duties during truss/rafter erections.
(2). Procedures for working on the top plate. [Emphasis added.]
(a) Installing The First Two Trusses. The first two trusses/rafters must be set from ladders. The ladders must lean on side walls at points where the walls can support the load imposed by the ladder and worker. After the first two trusses/rafters have been set, a worker will climb a ladder onto the interior top plate to secure their peaks. [Emphasis added.]
(b) Remain On The Top Plate. Workers will remain on the top plate and use the previously stabilized trusses/rafters as support while the other trusses/rafters are erected.

Thus, by it terms, the Directive addresses the procedure of "spreading" the trusses.

In your scenario, the following procedures, among others set forth in the Directive, must be followed in order to ensure compliance:

  • An initial determination must be made that the use of ladders/scaffolds creates a greater hazard;
  • The first two trusses must be set from stable ladders;
  • Workers situated on interior top plates must then secure the peaks of the first two trusses; and
  • The workers are then to "remain on the [interior] top plate and use the previously stabilized trusses/rafters as support while the other trusses/rafters are erected." [Emphasis added.]

No mention is made in the Directive of walking on the trusses themselves for setting and bracing. Therefore, that practice is not permissible under the STD 3-0.1A procedures.

Question 4(a): In residential construction, is it acceptable to have a painted warning line 2 feet instead of 6 feet from an unprotected edge when erecting exterior walls?

Answer: In section (IX)(B)(4)(b), the Directive states that:

4. Erection of Exterior Walls.
b. Warning Line. A painted warning line six (6) feet from the perimeter will be clearly marked before any wall erection activities take place.
Note: As discussed above, this work must be done within a [controlled access zone]. A crew supervisor/foreman is required to monitor this work and warn anyone who approaches the unprotected edge. The warning line does not replace the monitor; it is an additional safety measure. [Emphasis added.]

A painted warning line 2 feet from the perimeter would not fulfill the Additional Requirements For Specific Group (1) Activities as specifically stated in section (IX)(B) of the Directive.

Question 4(b): Is "plating" of the exterior walls an activity covered by STD 3-0.1A(IX)(B)(4)?

Answer: It is our understanding that the "plating of exterior walls" refers to the installation of siding material (i.e., aluminum, vinyl, or clapboard) to the exterior wall frame. That activity is not identified in the Directive for which alternative fall protection plans are available. This activity is therefore not covered by the Directive. Instead, plating of exterior walls must be done in accordance with the applicable conventional fall protection requirements in Subpart M.2

Question (5): Is there a height limitation to those employees performing work covered by Group 3 activities?

Answer: STD 3-0.1A, Section XI, details the alternate procedures for Group 3 residential construction activities:

XI.   ALTERNATIVE PROCEDURES FOR GROUP 3: THIS GROUP CONSISTS OF THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES WHEN PERFORMED IN ATTICS AND ON ROOFS:
Installing drywall, insulation, HVAC systems, electrical systems (including alarms, telephone lines, and cable TV), plumbing and carpentry.

This Instruction specifies the procedures for this group. They are: A. Trained Workers Only. 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.
B. Staging of Materials. Materials and equipment for the work shall be located conveniently close to the workers.
C. Impalement Hazards. Materials and other objects which could pose impalement hazards shall be keep out of the area below where workers are working, or properly guarded.
D. Restricted Access. 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.
E. Bad Weather. When adverse weather (such as high winds, rain, snow, or sleet) creates a hazardous condition, operations shall be suspended until the hazardous condition no longer exists.
NOTE: The provisions of this Instruction do not apply to interior finishing work when done outside of attics or roof areas. Subpart M applies to such work with respect to stairways, stairway openings, walkways, floor or window openings, floor holes or other elevated openings or open sides.

Unlike Group 1 and Group 4 activities, there is no height limitation mentioned in the Directive for Group III activities. As long as your employees are engaged in residential construction as described above in STD 3-0.1A VIII(A) and their activities fall within those listed in STD 3-0.1A VIII(B) Group 3, you may choose to use the alternative fall protection procedures described in STD 3-0.1A XI.

Question (6): Under Group 4 activities, are slide guards required where employees are "rolling" the tar paper?

Answer: Yes. As stated in STD 3-0.1A slide guards are required to be used with roofs with a slope over 4 in 12 (except for tile or metal roofs). Where slide guards are used, STD 3-0.1A sets out the installation requirements.

No more than three rows of roofing material (installed across the lower eave) shall be applied before installing the slide guards.

The STD 3-0.1A specifically states that an employer cannot have more than three rows of roofing material before installing the slide guards. In a case where an employer would prefer to roll the tar paper for the entire roof and then return to install additional roofing materials, conventional fall protection, unless shown by the employer to be infeasible, would be required under §1926.501(b)(13).

Question (7): What fall protection must be provided to employees delivering roofing materials to a residential construction roof-top worksite?

Answer: Title 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13) ("residential construction") 3 states:

Each employee engaged in residential construction activities 6 feet or more above lower levels shall be protected by guardrail systems, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system . . . . 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.

Since February of 1995, the Agency has had a compliance policy regarding roofing material vendor employees delivering materials on a roof. That policy, as restated in OSHA's Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published in the Federal Register on July 14, 1999 (volume 64, page 38077), is as follows:

[OSHA] will not require the vendor's employees to install an anchorage point for fall protection [when distributing roofing materials] regardless of the slope of the roof or the fall distance. However, if an anchorage point is already available on the roof, the employees must use fall protection equipment.

The policy was reiterated in our January 5, 2001, Reynolds letter (available at http://www.osha.gov under "Interpretations"). Note that, as explained in the Reynolds letter, where employees use a conveyor belt to deliver the materials:

A handhold (rope, chain, or other railing) must be attached to the conveyer belt so that the employee has something to steady himself with as he gains access to the roof or a ladder must be used to gain access to the roof.

[This document was edited on 12/5/12 to strike information that no longer reflects current OSHA policy.]

Question (8): What forms of fall protection must be provided for employees who are on the roof of a residential construction project covered by STD 3-0.1A and are performing work other than roofing (such as stucco, siding, and painting).

Answer
Background
Where the structure involved falls within the scope of STD 3-0.1A and the activity is one of the listed activities in that Directive (the covered activities are those in Groups 1-4), employers may use the alternative measures specified in STD 3-0.1A for that activity.

If the activity is not one of the activities listed in Groups 1 - 4, then the requirements of §1926.501(b)(13) apply. Section 1926.501(b)(13) states:

"Residential construction." Each employee engaged in residential construction activities 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above lower levels shall be protected by guardrail systems, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system unless another provision in paragraph (b) of this section provides for an alternative fall protection measure. 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 that, for activities outside the scope of Groups 1-4, §1926.501(b)(13) allows the employer to use alternative fall protection methods where it can demonstrate the infeasibility of conventional fall protection. The alternative procedures must be in a written, site-specific plan that complies with the criteria in §1926.502(k).

Specific Activities
We address your question regarding three particular activities below. For each, we assume the activities are being done from the roof of a project that is within the scope of STD 3-0.1A.

Siding work -- When siding work is done from the roof of an STD 3-0.1A project, it is considered "carpentry" and therefore covered under Group 3. Therefore, the employer is permitted to use the alternative procedures specified in Group 3 of the Directive. If those procedures are not used, the requirements of §1926.501(b)(13) apply, as discussed above.

Stucco -- The installation of wire lath from the roof for a stucco exterior is considered "carpentry," and therefore is covered under Group 3. However, the application of the plaster is not considered carpentry work, so that part of the stucco process is not covered by STD 3-0.1A.

Painting -- Painting is not one of the listed activities in any of the Groups, so that activity is not covered by STD 3-0.1A. For painting, the requirements of §1926.501(b)(13) apply, as discussed above.


1 Section IX only applies to workers engaged in residential construction activities specified in that section that are "used on structures up to three and a half stories or 48 feet (including basement, two finished levels, attic). The 48-foot measure is from the base of the building, at the lowest ground level (including any excavation), to the point of greatest height." [ back to text ]


2 Note, though, that installing siding (such as on a dormer) while standing on a roof is considered carpentry work for purposes of STD 3-0.1A. In that circumstance, the work is included as a Group 3 activity. [ back to text ]


3 Note that the delivery of roofing materials to a roof is not one of the activities covered by STD 3-0.1A. [ back to text ]


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