OSHA Says It Will Not Issue Citations Under Residential Roofing Directive Until Sept. 15

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Enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's new residential roofing directive is being pushed back to Sept. 15, according to a letter the agency sent out late June 8 to the construction community. The target date to start enforcement had been set at June 16.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Safety and Health David Michaels disclosed the delay in June 8 letter to the National Association of Home Builders, which along with the National Roofing Contractors Association had requested a delay. Both groups were concerned about how OSHA would apply the new directive and whether their members understood what OSHA expected regarding compliance.

“In the first three months that the new directive is in effect, OSHA will refrain from issuing fall protection citations to employers who are using the protective measures in the old directive,” Michaels told the Home Builders. “Instead, during this period, field staff will focus on helping employers come into compliance with [the standard] 29 C.F.R. 1926.501 (b)(13) and the new directive.”

When inspectors find roofing work acceptable under the old directive but in violation of the new directive, they will work with the OSHA area director to issue a hazard alert letter informing the employer of the “feasible methods he or she may use to comply with OSHA’s fall protection standard,” Michaels wrote.

The delay also gives the construction community and OSHA more time to iron out differences over how the directive should be interpreted and for companies to prepare for the new requirements, Robert Matuga, assistant vice president for labor, safety, and health policy for the Home Builders, told BNA June 9.

Contractors have had since Dec. 22, 2010, when the new directive (STD 03-11-002 Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction) was announced, to prepare for the enforcement date (40 OSHR 1056, 12/23/10).

The directive explains how OSHA will enforce the standard for fall protection, Duty to Have Fall Protection 29 C.F.R. 1926.501(b)(13). The new guide replaces an “interim” directive in use since 1995, the Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction (STD 03-00-001).

The major difference between the old and new directives is that the new guideline essentially bans the use of slide guards as a fall prevention device. Contractors can use slide guards only if they state in writing that using conventional fall prevention measures such as harnesses and scaffolds would create a greater hazard. Contractors also must write a fall prevention plan detailing how the slide guards or other devices would be used and how they will restrict who is allowed on the roof.

By Bruce Rolfsen

The new roofing directive is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=sbra-8fdsx7 . OSHA's letter is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=sbra-8hnnmd