For the second time this year, OSHA has extended the deadline to end temporary enforcement measures associated with its directive in residential construction to prevent falls, which are the No. 1 cause of workplace deaths in that sector. The extension will run until December 15, 2012.
OSHA issued a directive regarding residential construction that went into effect in June 2011. It replaced a policy that had been in effect since 1999. In conjunction with the directive, to ease the transition the agency also put in place general policy guidance on enforcement and compliance assistance. The directive requires compliance with 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13), which requires fall protection for workers engaged in residential construction at heights of six feet or more. However, if an employer can demonstrate infeasibility or that the mandated fall protection presents a greater hazard, it may implement a fall protection plan under 1926.502(k).
Temporary enforcement measures accompanying the policy change consist of priority free, on-site compliance assistance; penalty reductions; extended abatement dates; measures to ensure consistency; and increased outreach. These measures originally had been set to expire March 15, were then extended until September 15, and now extended yet again. The agency said that since October 1, 2011, it has performed more than 2,500 on-site visits and conducted more than 800 outreach activities.