A tough loss

As you no doubt know, in February NRCA filed a petition for judicial review of new rules issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that fundamentally change the requirements for protecting workers from falls on residential roofing projects. The new OSHA rules, which were issued in December 2010 and take effect June 16, no longer allow the use of slide guards, or roof brackets, as an acceptable means of fall protection except in some specific circumstances.

NRCA argued that slide guards are a reliable fall-protection method; they have been used successfully for more than 15 years; and OSHA's new rules not only are unnecessarily burdensome but will result in more job-site accidents and injuries.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Chicago, determined OSHA's new fall-protection rule was an "exercise in prosecutorial discretion and not a new standard," and OSHA was not required to conduct a rulemaking. The court dismissed NRCA's petition, and the new OSHA rules will stand.

"NRCA has requested a meeting with OSHA as soon as possible to try to obtain the agency's guidance about how roofing operations, especially repair and reroofing work, can be performed when the unique nature of the structure, environment and/or type of work precludes the safe use of personal fall-arrest systems," says Tom Shanahan, NRCA's associate executive director of risk management. "In addition, NRCA's Risk Management Department is developing materials to help NRCA members and the roofing industry understand how to comply with all aspects of OSHA's fall-protection regulations."