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Three Month Enforcement Phase-In for Residential Construction Fall Protection

We have all been aware this day was coming. The June 16, 2011 date should have been tattooed on all residential construction company owner’s brains. This is the day you must be in compliance with fall protection regulations and protect your employees from falls. But it seems as though OSHA has a heart – and they are giving residential construction companies more time to comply.

On June 9th, OSHA announced a three-month enforcement phase-in period to allow residential construction employers to come into compliance with the “new” directive. What does this mean for you, the owner who has to protect his employees? During June 16th and September 15th, if an employer is in full compliance with the old directive (STD 03-00-001) OSHA will not issue citations, but will instead issue a hazard alert letter informing the employer of the feasible measures that can be used to comply with OSHA’s fall protection standard or implement a written fall protection plan. Remember, that fall protection plan, as per OSHA, must be written by a qualified person stating all the places where fall protection is INFEASIBLE.

If an employer fails to implement the fall protection measures outlined in the hazard alert letter, and OSHA finds violations involving the same hazards during a subsequent inspection of one of the employers workplaces (note, “one of the employers workplaces” means the violation does not just have to occur on the originating project), OSHA will issue the appropriate citations.

If the employers practices do not meet the requirements set forth in the old directive, OSHA will issue citations.

Now don’t get all excited that this means you don’t have to comply right now – cause it really doesn’t. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that the “Alternative Fall Protection Plan” or the “old directive” was difficult to implement to begin with. So sure, as of right now you may not have to have 100% fall protection but you have to follow the “Alternative Fall Protection Plan” to a “T”!!

Just because OSHA released this statement for the phase-in doesn’t mean certain Area Offices will follow suit. If you’re in a state where OSHA has approved a state plan, which is always stricter than the federal plan, those compliance officers and Area Directors may choose to fine a company immediately for not protecting your workers from falls.

Didn’t your mom or dad ever say to you “It’s better to do something the right way the first time”? Well, it’s true in this scenario too. Protect your workers from falls before they happen and OSHA will most likely stay away from your site!

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