New Steel Erection Standard Issued

OSHA issued the steel erection rule yesterday, which becomes effective July 17.

OSHA issued the steel erection standard yesterday. The rule is expected to prevent 30 fatalities and 1,142 injuries annually and save employers nearly $40 million a year. The final rule will become effective July 17.

"Every year, an average of 35 iron workers die during steel erection activities and 2,300 more suffer lost workday injuries," said OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress. "This standard will help prevent many of those fatalities and injuries. I commend business and labor interests for working together to develop this standard."

OSHA said the standard enhances protections provided to iron workers by addressing the hazards that have been identified as the major causes of injuries and fatalities in the steel erection industry.

These are hazards associated with working under loads; hoisting, landing and placing decking; column stability; double connections; landing and placing steel joints; and falls to lower levels.

The rule does not cover electric transmission towers, communications towers, broadcast towers, water towers or tanks.

The steel erection rule is the first OSHA safety standard developed under the Negotiated Rulemaking Act of 1990 and the Department''s Negotiated Rulemaking Policy.

The rule was developed by members of the Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (SENRAC), representing employers and employees significantly affected by the standard.

However, this rule has not been without controversy. At a meeting in late December, labor and management members SENRAC united in accusing OSHA of breaking its commitment to the negotiated rulemaking, saying the agency made significant changes to SENRAC''s consensus standard.

SENRAC gave its proposal to OSHA four years ago, and SENRAC members believe the final standard released bears little resemblance to their proposal.

At the center of the controversy were the standard''s fall protection provisions.

SENRAC called for requiring employers to provide fall protection for deckers and connectors working 15 to 30 feet above a platform.

But SENRAC made the use of protection optional up to 30 feet, while OSHA changed the final standard to require that workers use the protection at 15 feet.

Despite criticism from some SENRAC members over OSHA''s changes to the draft standard, the agency has defended its right to issue a standard that provides the best possible protection for American workers.

Provisions of Revised Steel Erection Standard

Key provisions of the revised steel erection standard include:

Site Layout and Construction Sequence
  • Requires certification of proper curing of concrete in footings, piers, etc. for steel columns.
  • Requires controlling contractor to provide erector with a safe site layout including pre-planning routes for hoisting loads.
Site-Specific Erection Plan
  • Requires pre-planning of key erection elements, including coordination with controlling contractor before erection begins, in certain circumstances.
Hoisting and Rigging
  • Provides additional crane safety for steel erection.
  • Minimizes employee exposure to overhead loads through pre-planning and work practice requirements.
  • Prescribes proper procedure for multiple lifts (Christmas-treeing).
Structural Steel Assembly
  • Provides safer walking/working surfaces by eliminating tripping hazards and minimizes slips through new slip resistance requirements.
  • Provides specific work practices regarding safely landing deck bundles and promoting the prompt protection from fall hazards in interior openings.
Column Anchorage
  • Requires 4 anchor bolts per column along with other column stability requirements.
  • Requires procedures for adequacy of anchor bolts that have been modified in the field.
Beams and Columns
  • Eliminates extremely dangerous collapse hazards associated with making double connections at columns.
Open Web Steel Joists
  • Requirements minimizing collapse of lightweight steel joists by addressing need for erection bridging and method of attachment.
  • Requirements for bridging terminus anchors with illustrations and drawings in a non-mandatory appendix (provided by SJI).
  • New requirements to minimize collapse in placing loads on steel joints.
Systems-Engineered Metal Buildings
  • Requirements to minimize collapse in the erection of these specialized structures which account for a major portion of steel erection in this country.
Falling Object Protection
  • Performance provisions that address hazards of falling objects in steel erection.
Fall Protection
  • Controlled decking zone (CDZ) provisions to prevent decking fatalities.
  • Deckers in a CDZ and connectors must be protected at heights greater than two stories or 30 feet. Connectors between 15 and 30 feet must wear fall arrest or restraint equipment and be able to be tied off or be provided another means of fall protection.
  • Requires fall protection for all others engaged in steel erection at heights greater than 15 feet.
  • Requires qualified person to train exposed workers in fall protection.
  • Requires qualified person to train exposed workers engaged in special, high risk activities.

OSHA''s final steel erection standard appears in today''s issue of the Federal Register.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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