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Construction Law

Fall Protection: OSHA Rejects Arizona Standards

Arizona contractors engaged in residential construction must comply with stricter federal fall protection standards.

 

On February 6, 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rejected Arizona’s residential fall protection standards that were enacted in 2012.

As a result of OSHA’s actions, all of the Arizona state-specific residential fall protection standards in A.R.S. §§ 23-492 through -492.09 are automatically repealed. Effective February 7, 2015, Arizona employers in Arizona must comply with the federal residential fall protection standards in 29 CFR 1926.501 et seq., known as Subpart M.

 

This article in its original form appeared in the April 2013 issue of "The Construction Advisor" and was updated in February 2015.


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To help contractors comply with Subpart M, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) is offering free classes on the first and third Thursday of each month, from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the Industrial Commission of Arizona Auditorium, 800 West Washington Street, Phoenix, Arizona, and through webinars scheduled for the third Wednesday of each month from 10:00 am to noon.

Additional training options can be arranged through ADOSH’s consultation program. For more information, visit the Industrial Commission of Arizona website or by call 602-542-1769 (Phoenix) or 520-628-5478 (Tucson).

Background

Central to OSHA’s problems with the State was dissatisfaction with enforcing the use of conventional fall protection in most circumstances where employees are working six to 15 feet above a surface. OSHA requires construction employers to provide fall protection at elevations of six feet and above.

The result for many construction employers included heightened regulatory activity and tighter enforcement. In representing contractors that have received a safety-related citation, we have seen situations in which (a) an employee unilaterally disregarded a safety protocol and (b) regulators “imputed” knowledge of the violation to the employer. This allows regulators to cite the employer for rogue employee misconduct, even though the employer had no actual knowledge.

As a consequence, otherwise compliant contractors were being tagged with the stigma of violations, thus threatening their business relationships with project owners and general contractors that require a clean disciplinary record.

Compliance

In this time of increased enforcement activity, it is more important than ever that roofing contractors and other employers in fall-sensitive construction situations exercise vigilance in complying with OSHA requirements and, in particular, supervising and reprimanding workers who disregard fall protection and other safety standards.

Evidence of an employer being “fully compliant” generally includes company-wide safety policies and procedures, regular employee training, disciplinary action for workers’ non-compliant behavior, providing all necessary safety equipment on the job site, and hiring safety consultants to conduct additional training and unannounced job site inspections.

OSHA Requirements and Resources. Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths, particularly in construction. To prevent employees from being injured from falls, OSHA requires employers to, in general:

  • use safe work procedures;

  • train workers in the proper selection, use, and maintenance of all protection systems;

  • use proper construction and installation of safety systems;

  • select fall protection systems appropriate for given situations; and

  • supervise employees properly.

To help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites and to work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards, employers can contact OSHA's free and confidential on-site consultation service or call 800-321-OSHA (6742) and, under call-in options in effect at the time of this article, press number 4. OSHA claims that on-site consultations services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations.

Other on-line OSHA resources

OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign

Fall Prevention Training

Construction Industry Safety and Health Outreach Program

Fall Protection in Residential Construction

Construction Standards and Resources