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OR-OSHA Proposed Changes to Fall Protection Standard

OR-OSHA Proposed Changes to Fall Protection Standard

Oregon OSHA and federal OSHA have been in conversation about the fall protection issue for some time. or-oshaDuring October of 2015, Oregon OSHA received written confirmation from federal OSHA that Oregon OSHA’s fall protection requirements for construction activities cannot be considered at least as effective as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) requirements. Federal OSHA identified two specific items of concern that Oregon OSHA must address:

Oregon’s 10-foot general fall protection trigger height for construction activities is inconsistent with federal OSHA’s 6-foot trigger height.  A “trigger height” is a specified minimum height at or above which workers must be protected from fall hazards. Oregon’s 10-foot general trigger height for construction activities applies to any walking/working surface except for those permitted by another standard. “437-003-1500(7) Walking/working surface means any surface, whether horizontal or vertical on which an employee walks or works, including, but not limited to, floors, roofs, ramps, bridges, runways, formwork, beams, columns, trusses and concrete reinforcing steel but not ladders, vehicles, or trailers, on which employees must be located in order to perform their job duties.” Lowering Oregon’s 10-foot general trigger height to a 6-foot general fall protection trigger height for construction activities is needed to comply with the State Plan requirements under Section 18 of the OSH Act.

Oregon’s allowance of slide guards as an acceptable fall protection system for construction activities is inconsistent with federal OSHA’s fall protection requirements. “437-003-1500(6) Slide guard system means a fall protection system designed to prevent employees from sliding off a sloped roof to a lower level. The system consists of manufactured brackets (roof brackets) used in conjunction with dimensional lumber, or a site built system of similar designed and dimension.” They are currently allowed in Oregon on roofs with slopes of 3:12 to 8:12 and ground-to-eave heights of 25 feet or less. Since federal OSHA does not consider slide guard systems as effective as conventional fall protection systems such as guardrails systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems, prohibiting their use as a sole or primary fall protection system is needed to comply with the State Plan requirements under Section 18 of the OSH Act.

In the interest of continuing its efforts to better protect Oregon workers under its own State Plan, Oregon OSHA, in collaboration with an ad hoc fall protection subcommittee of the Construction Advisory Committee, is proposing a two-step approach that will address federal OSHA’s concerns and provide affected employers two reasonable time periods to acquire knowledge of, and comply with, these proposed rule changes.

The proposed revisions to Subdivision 3/M, include amending the 10-foot general trigger height for fall protection to 6 feet, and revoking the use of slide guards as a sole or primary fall protection system. Fall protection and falling object protection requirements currently under 437-003-1501(1) through (5) were removed due to redundancy or revised and renumbered for clarification as a result of this rulemaking.

The tentative effective dates of the proposed rule changes are:

  • January 1, 2017 for the 6-foot general fall protection trigger height under Subdivision 3/M.
  • October 1, 2017 for prohibiting the use of slide guard systems as a sole or primary fall protection system.

Public hearings are scheduled for January in the following cities; Seaside, Tigard, Eugene, Medford, and Bend. More details

Comment period closes January 27, 2016

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