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News Release USDL: 95-499
Thursday, December 7, 1995
CONTACT: Frank Kane, (202) 219-8151

Consensus Reached On Draft Proposal For OSHA Steel Erection Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced today that its Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (SENRAC) has reached consensus on a draft proposal for a revised steel erection standard.

"This is a major step forward in improving protection for the tens of thousands of workers in steel erection," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Joseph A. Dear. "It is an outstanding example of how the new OSHA works -- achieving common sense regulation through partnership with labor, industry, public interests and other governmental agencies. The language used in the draft proposal also incorporates 'plain English' that can be understood by both employers and their workers."

An integral part of the proposal is improved fall protection for steel erection workers. A new study by the University of Utah indicates that the fall-related death rate for the steel erection industry over a six-year period was 13 times higher than for the construction industry as a whole and 100 times that of general industry.

Richard King, partner and manager of safety and health for Black & Veatch, a Kansas City, Mo., engineering and construction firm said, the negotiating process was rewarding. "It was a dynamic process that produced a standard that will be very usable, easy to understand, and will save lives. Everybody had an opportunity to be heard. The result was a product that the government didn't develop and shove down industry's throat. It was a product developed by the industry itself. I hope OSHA will continue to involve SENRAC in the implementation of a final rule, using SENRAC members to help explain it to employers and employees."

Jake West, president of the International Association of Bridge, Structural & Ornamental Iron Workers, AFL-CIO, a union with members on the committee, said, "This is a major success that permitted those who must abide by a government regulation to help write it. Because it was done this way, it will expedite swift voluntary compliance by the industry. We have already started working on plans to achieve such voluntary compliance."

The proposal would require fall protection for steel erection workers working at heights of 15 feet or more. Workers doing connection work and workers installing decking would be the exception and would be protected at 30 feet.

Connectors still would be required to wear personal fall protection equipment but, because they sometimes need mobility, they could decide whether or not to tie off between 15 and 30 feet while doing connecting. There would be controlled zones where decking workers would not be required to tie off below 30 feet.

The current steel erection standards do not require workers to tie off until they are at 25 feet and, in some cases, 30 feet high.

Many falls in steel erection are related to causes other than the worker slipping or falling, such as structure instability.

Responding to these hazards, the draft proposal includes new requirements for stability such as a minimum number of anchor bolts and the proper procedure for making double connections (where two pieces of steel share a common connection point and common bolts on either side of a central piece). The standard also establishes safe procedures for making multiple lifts (where several pieces of steel are hoisted at one time) that reflect the best industry practices.

The proposal is designed to protect all workers engaged in steel erection activities. It does not cover electric transmission towers, communications towers, broadcast towers, water towers or tanks.

SENRAC was established May 11, 1994, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Negotiated Rulemaking Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Negotiated rulemaking is a process spelled out in federal law in which a proposed rule is developed by a committee composed of all interests significantly affected by the final rule. Decisions are made by consensus.

The members are:

  • Richard Adams / Donald Pittenger
    Safety and Occupational Health Office
    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    Sacramento, Calif. / Washington, D.C.

  • William Brown
    Ben Hur Construction Co.
    St. Louis, Mo.

  • Byron R. Chadwick
    Regional Administrator,
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration
    Denver, Colo.

  • James E. Cole
    International Association of Bridge,
    Structural & Ornamental Iron Workers
    Washington, D.C.

  • Stephen D. Cooper
    International Association of Bridge,
    Structural & Ornamental Iron Workers
    Washington, D.C.

  • Philip H. Cordova
    El Paso Crane & Rigging, Inc.
    El Paso, Texas

  • Perry A. Day / Stacy B. Gillen
    International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship
    Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers
    Fairfax, Va.

  • James R. Hinson
    J. Hinson Network, Inc.
    San Leandro, Calif.

  • Jim E. Lapping / Brad Sant
    Building and Construction Trades Department
    AFL-CIO
    Washington, D. C.

  • Richard King
    Black & Veatch
    Kansas City, Mo.

  • John R. Molovich
    United Steelworkers of America
    Pittsburgh, Pa.

  • Carol Murkland / John P. O'Donovan
    Gilbane Building Co.
    Laurel, Md. / Providence, R.I.

  • John J. Murphy / Fred H. Codding, Esq.
    Williams Enterprises of Georgia, Inc.
    Smyrna, Ga. / Fairfax, Va.

  • Steven L. Rank
    Holton & Associates, Ltd.
    St. Louis, Mo.

  • Ray Rooth
    Division of Occupational Safety and Health
    California Department of Industrial Relations
    San Francisco, Calif.

  • Al Simmons
    Council of Greater New York and Vicinity
    International Association of Bridge,
    Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers
    Lake Grove, N.Y.

  • William J. Smith
    International Union of Operating Engineers
    Washington, D.C.

  • Ronald Stanevich
    National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
    Division of Safety Research
    Morgantown, W. Va.

  • C. Rockwell Turner
    L.P.R. Construction
    Loveland, Colo.

  • Eric Waterman
    National Erectors Association
    Arlington, Va.


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 News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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