Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Safety Standards for Fall Protection in the Construction Industry
• Section: 2
• Title: Section 2 - II. Hazards Involved

II. Hazards Involved

Fall accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities continue to occur at construction sites despite the promulgation of the OSHA Construction Standards in 1971. OSHA's initial review of accident data indicated that compliance with existing OSHA standards would have, in general, prevented the mishaps. After a more complete review of information derived from enforcement experience and public comments, OSHA decided that certain existing provisions needed to be updated and clarified, in order to improve employee protection. In addition, OSHA decided to reorganize the existing fall protection requirements so that employers could more readily determine what requirements they must follow.

Precise fall hazard accident data for the entire construction industry are not available. Falls are generally recorded by OSHA according to the nature of the injury and the surface involved, but the two categories have not been uniformly cross-referenced. However, based upon the data which have been compiled, OSHA estimates that there are at least 68,000 injuries due to falls from elevations covered under subpart M occur every year, and 95 fatalities (Regulatory Impact and Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, Section III).

The U.S. Department of Labor, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has listed falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for 8% of all occupational fatalities in 1986. Data from NIOSH showed that from 1980-1985, falls represented about 10% of all traumatic occupational deaths for which a cause was identified, and that falls were shown to be one of the major causes of injuries to construction workers. A NIOSH analysis of death certificates from work related injuries over a 10-year period has made it clear that falls are the leading cause of work related injury death among construction workers (E. Lynn Jenkins, S.M. Kisner, D.E. Fosbroke, et al. Fatal Injuries to Workers in the United States, 1980-89; A Decade of Surveillance -- National Profile, DHHS, NIOSH, 93-108, August 1993).

An OSHA study involving 99 fall-related fatalities (Ex. 3-3) suggests that virtually all of those deaths could have been prevented by the use of guardrails, body belts, body harnesses, safety nets, covers, or other means which would reduce employee exposure to the fall hazard.

OSHA recognizes that such accidents are, generally, complex events, involving a combination of factors. Accordingly, the Agency notes that a number of human and equipment-related issues must be addressed to protect employees from fall hazards. Among those issues are the following:

The need to know where protection is required;

The selection of fall protection systems which are appropriate for given situations;

The proper construction and installation of safety systems;
The proper supervision of employees;
The implementation of safe work procedures; and

The proper training in the selection, use, and maintenance of fall protection systems.

Each of these topics is covered in revised subpart M. The final rule requires employers to identify and evaluate fall hazards, and it includes specific training requirements that clarify the existing general training provisions of Sec. 1926.21 as they apply to fall protection. The final rule also makes it clear what an employer must do to provide fall protection for employees. Finally, the final rule relocates fall protection requirements from other subparts in the construction regulations, and places them in subpart M. For example, fall protection for workers on steep roofs was addressed by provisions in existing subpart L, but now will be addressed in revised subpart M.

Based on its review of the incident data, OSHA has concluded that fall hazards pose a significant risk of death or serious injury for construction employees and that compliance with the requirements of revised subpart M is reasonably necessary to protect employees from those hazards. For a further discussion of accident rates and the significance of fall hazards in construction employment, see Section IV. Summary of the Regulatory Impact Analysis and Section V. Statutory Considerations.

Certain proposed provisions have been reorganized in the final rule. The reorganized provisions are as follows:

                          Reorganization Table
 New Sec. no. and/or      |
      paragraph           |    Proposed Sec. no. and/or paragraph
Sec. 1926.501             |
  (b)(11)                 |   (c)
  (b)(12)                 |
  (b)(13)                 |
  (b)(14)                 |   (d)
  (b)(15)                 |
  (c)                     |   (e)
Sec. 1926.502             |
  (b)(10)                 |   (b)(11)
  (b)(11)                 |   (b)(12)
  (b)(12)                 |   (b)(13)
  (b)(13)                 |   (b)(14)
  (b)(14)                 |   (b)(15)
  (b)(15)                 |
  (d)(1)                  |   (d)(9)
  (d)(2)                  |   (d)(10)
  (d)(3)                  |   (d)(16)
  (d)(4)                  |
  (d)(5)                  |
  (d)(6)                  |   (d)(17), (18) and (19)
  (d)(7)                  |
  (d)(8)                  |   (d)(14)
  (d)(9)                  |   (d)(13) and (15)
  (d)(10)                 |   (d)(11)
  (d)(11)                 |   (d)(3)
  (d)(12)                 |   (d)(13) partial
  (d)(13)                 |   (d)(13) partial
  (d)(14)                 |
  (d)(15)                 |   (d)(12)
  (d)(16)                 |   (d)(4), (5), and (6)
  (d)(17)                 |   (d)(7)
  (d)(18)                 |   (d)(1)
  (d)(19)                 |   (d)(2)
  (d)(20)                 |
  (d)(21)                 |   (d)(20)
  (d)(22)                 |   (d)(8)
  (d)(23)                 |   (d)(21)
  (d)(24)                 |   (d)(22)
  (e)(2)                  |   (e)(3)
  (e)(3)                  |
  (e)(4)                  |   (e)(2)
  (e)(5)                  |   (e)(4)
  (e)(6)                  |
  (e)(7)                  |
  (e)(8)                  |
  (e)(9)                  |   (e)(5)
  (e)(10)                 |
  (g)(1)                  |   (g)(1) and (g)(5)
  (g)(2)                  |   (g)(2) and (g)(5)
  (h)(4)                  |
  (i)(4)                  |
  (j)(8)                  |
  (k)(1)-(10)             |
Sec. 1926.503             |
  (b)                     |
  (c)                     |   (a)(2)
  Appendix D              |
  Appendix E              |
[59 FR 40672, Aug. 9, 1994]

Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents