Residential construction has been exempt from fall protection regulations since the Clinton Administration, but OSHA reversed course last year and announced it is issuing a new compliance directive mandating that ”employees working six feet or more above lower levels use guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems.” It defines personal fall arrest system to include a full body harness, deceleration device, lanyard and anchor point. Alternatives such as restraint systems or warning lines may be used in certain circumstances, and OSHA will exempt employers from the requirements if they can document why fall protection would be infeasible or create a greater hazard.
UPDATE on June 9. OSHA announced today that it is allowing a three-month phase-in period to comply with this regulation. From June 16 to September 15, if the employer is in full compliance with the old directive, OSHA won’t cite, but will issue a hazard alert letter. This letter will inform the employer of feasible methods to comply with the fall protection standard or implement a written fall protection plan. If an employer fails to implement the fall protection measures outlined in a hazard alert letter, and during a subsequent inspection of one of the employer’s workplaces OSHA finds violations involving the same hazards, the Area Office shall issue appropriate citations. Read the details.