OSHA Eyes Change in Proposed Fall Protection Rule

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) in July to obtain information and comments on fall protection for construction workers covered by OSHA's fall protection standard.

Since publishing the rule in 1994, the agency has received many complaints that compliance with the regulation is infeasible in many cases, such as in residential and post-frame construction, while erecting precast concrete and when climbing reinforced steel. The ANPR is intended to seek responses to 10 questions raised by the fall protection standard.

According to John Palmer, director of the Scaffold Training Institute, what connects most of the issues is that the OSHA rule requires that fall protection and restraint systems be anchored at a point above the worker. "What these construction industries have been trying to get OSHA to understand," Palmer said, "is that in some cases, it may be impossible to do this." In some construction situations, there is nothing above the worker.

At the same time, Palmer noted that in many cases, anchorage points may be pre-engineered into the construction process.

Comments on the proposed rule revision are due by Oct. 22, at which time OSHA will decide what further steps are necessary.

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