November 18, 2016
There are two new safety requirements in store for employers who do construction work in Oregon next year and they're both about fall protection.
These new requirements mean that – if you do construction work – you will need to use some form of fall protection to prevent your employees from falling six feet or more to a lower level, beginning Jan. 1, 2017. And if you're using slide guards as fall protection, you will have to replace them with another type of fall protection beginning Oct. 1, 2017.
Many large commercial construction contractors are already using some using fall protection at six feet. More likely to be affected by the new requirements are contractors who do construction projects on single-family homes that have a ground-to-eave height between six and 10 feet and those who do projects where slide guards are used for fall protection.
The story goes back to June 2013 when federal OSHA began reviewing fall protection requirements in the 26 states and territories that have some form of OSHA-approved state plan.
OSHA identified Oregon's 10-foot trigger height for construction work and the use of slide guards as areas of concern.
At issue was whether the 10-foot trigger height and the use of slide guards as a means of fall protection were as effective as OSHA's requirements. (OSHA required a six-foot trigger height for fall protection and prohibited the use slide guards in 24 states that are under its jurisdiction.)
Lowering Oregon OSHA's 10-foot general trigger height to six feet and prohibiting the use of slide guards were necessary to ensure that Oregon OSHA's requirements were at least as effective as OSHA's.
The key change – in Oregon OSHA's proposed Subdivision 3/M fall protection requirements – says that [Except where permitted by another standard,] "when employees are exposed to a hazard of falling 6 feet or more to a lower level, the employer must ensure that fall protection systems are provided, installed and implemented…"
The rules that permitted the use of slide guard systems, manufactured roof brackets, and job made slide guards were also repealed.
The fall protection trigger height requirements in Subdivisions 3/L (Scaffolding), 3/R (Steel Erection), 3/S (Underground Construction), and 3/CC (Cranes and Derricks in Construction) are not affected.
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