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First Quarter 2013

OSHA’s Focus on Residential Construction

By: Shane Stuller

In a news release from December 11, 2012, The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupation Safety and Health Administration announced that they will extend their temporary enforcement measures in residential construction. The original directive began on October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012, but will now extend through March 15, 2013.

Approximately 40,000 workers are injured on residential construction sites each year. Many of the injuries in residential construction could have easily been prevented if OSHA regulations were followed.

Below are the top 5 OSHA violations in residential construction:

  • Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451)
    • Poor planking or supports
    • Slips & struck by falling objects
  • Fall Protection & Fall Protection Training (29 CFR 1926.501 & 1926.503)
    • Employees not properly protected at a height of 6 feet or more above a lower level
    • Lack of adequate training to employees who might be exposed to fall hazards
  • Ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053)
    • Ladders not extended at least 3 feet above upper landing level or secured at top and used with a grab rail
    • Improper ladder angle for non-self-supporting ladders (4 to 1 rule)
  • Head Protection (29 CFR 1926.100)
    • Employees working in areas where potential head injury exists, employees not protected
    • Head protection does not meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requirements
  • Stairways (29 CFR 1926.1052)
    • Improperly constructed temporary stairways (proper dimensions, free of hazardous projections, and handrails)

In theory, OSHA inspections do not need a reason to happen. Any organization can be visited at any time by an inspector who need not have any reason to show up except the fact that the workplace is covered by federal safety regulations. But now, with temporary enforcement measures in place, the planning and preparation for OSHA compliance is of utmost importance.

On the bright side, the temporary enforcement measures are not only inspections, but also include priority free on-site compliance assistance, penalty reductions, extended abatement dates, measures to ensure consistency, and increased outreach.

OSHA has also developed materials to assist the residential construction industry, including a wide variety of education and training materials to assist employers with compliance. The web pages can found at:

Information abstracted in part from the US Department
of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and OSHA websites.

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