OSHA Amends Steel Erection Standard to Improve Highway Construction Worker Safety

June 2, 2010
OSHA has added a note to its Steel Erection standard informing employers of certain Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requirements in an effort to better protect workers and motorists during highway bridge construction.

According to OSHA, this added information will help prevent tragedies like the 2004 incident in which a 100-foot-long, 40-ton steel bridge girder fell from an overpass under construction in Golden, Colo., crushing an SUV passing underneath and killing the family of three inside. The falling girder could just as easily have struck and killed the construction workers who were building the bridge had they been there at the time. OSHA therefore is amending its Steel Erection standard to notify employers of FHWA regulations that could save the lives of workers constructing highway bridges.

In many cases, FHWA requires that a Registered Engineer prepare plans for any temporary braces or supports used to stabilize structures such as bridges during highway construction. The National Transportation Safety Board determined the company erecting the bridge contributed to the fatal 2004 incident by failing to follow this requirement.

Adding notification of FHWA requirements to the Steel Erection standard is considered a technical amendment because it does not impose any additional compliance burden on employers and therefore does not require a public comment period before going into effect.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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