Steel erection standard may apply to fall hazards

Roofing contractors generally refer to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Subpart M, 29 CFR §1926.500-503, for information regarding fall-protection issues involved in roofing work. However, in certain instances, Subpart R, OSHA's steel erection standard, may apply to fall hazards during some roofing work.

Subpart R applies to employers "engaged in steel erection," and some roofing activities are covered by this subpart when they "occur during and are part of steel erection activities." Such activities include metal roofing and accessories, architectural and ornamental metal work, and skylights. Workers engaged in steel erection activity on a walking and/or working surface with an unprotected side or edge greater than 15 feet above a lower level must be protected by guardrails, personal fall-arrest systems, safety nets, fall-restraint systems and/or positioning device systems.

Additionally, a controlled decking zone (CDZ) may be established in an area of a structure more than 15 feet and up to 30 feet above a lower level where metal decking initially is being installed. In a CDZ:

  • Access is limited to those workers doing leading edge work.
  • The boundary must clearly be marked by control lines.
  • Each worker must have completed CDZ training.
  • Unsecured decking may not exceed 3,000 square feet.
  • Each worker must be protected from falls higher than 30 feet by one or more of the fall-protection systems listed.

Issues for roofing contractors in these instances include:

  • Which standard applies to the work being done?
  • Is the work part of steel erection activities?
  • At what height is the work taking place?
  • What are the fall-protection options under Subpart R or Subpart M?
  • Can a CDZ be used to protect workers?

More information is available at www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/steel erection/fallprotection.html.

OSHA announces several changes

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published criteria for removing employers from the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). SVEP has been in effect since June 18, 2010, and is intended to focus agency resources on employers that demonstrate indifference to their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act with willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

On Aug. 16, OSHA issued employer removal criteria from the SVEP program to all federal OSHA offices. Generally, an employer may be considered for removal from the program by an OSHA regional administrator after:

  • A period of three years from the final disposition date of the SVEP inspection citation items, including failure to contest, settlement agreement, review commission final order or court of appeals decision.
  • All affirmed violations have been abated, all final penalties have been paid, and the employer has abided by and completed all settlement provisions and has not received additional serious citations related to the hazards identified in the SVEP inspection at the initial establishment or at any related establishments.

If an employer fails to adhere to the agreement terms and provisions, the employer will remain in the program for an additional three years and will be re-evaluated. More information about OSHA's SVEP program is available at www.osha.gov/dep/enforcement/memo_SVEP_removal_criteria_082012.html.

OSHA also has renewed its alliance with the National Safety Council to continue enhancing worker safety and health by addressing construction hazards, injury and illness prevention programs, and motor vehicle safety.

During the two-year agreement, the alliance will develop fact sheets discussing the benefits of employers establishing an injury and illness prevention program, hazard identification and control topics that should be included in worker training, fall prevention and best practices for reporting near misses. The alliance also will develop a case study about preventing falls from heights in construction, focusing on the causes of fall-protection failures and how employers can ensure an effective and reliable fall-prevention program.

Additionally, OSHA has extended its temporary enforcement measures in residential construction through Dec. 15. The temporary enforcement measures include priority, free, on-site compliance assistance; penalty reductions; extended abatement dates; measures to ensure consistency; and increased outreach.

NLRB introduces concerted activity Web page

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has launched a Web page that describes employees' right to act together for their mutual aid and protection even if they are not in a union.

The Web page, www.nlrb.gov/concerted-activity, discusses more than a dozen recent cases involving protected concerted activity that can be viewed by clicking points on a map. Cases include a construction crew being fired after refusing to work in the rain near exposed electrical wire; an engineer at a vegetable packing plant being fired after reporting safety concerns affecting other employees; a paramedic being fired after posting work-related grievances on Facebook; a customer service representative losing her job after discussing her wages with a co-worker; and poultry workers being fired after discussing their grievances with a newspaper reporter. Open-shop concerted activity accounts for more than 5 percent of NLRB's recent cases.

NRCA and other business groups oppose some of NLRB's recent decisions regarding various employment-related issues. For more information, see "A challenging year," page 42.

White House seeks input from business owners

The White House has created its Advise the Advisor Web page asking for input from business owners about burdensome regulations that negatively affect their businesses.

Business owners and other individuals who may be burdened by outdated or costly government regulations can submit their comments and ideas about regulations that need to be improved or made more effective and how to improve the system so businesses can more easily succeed at www.whitehouse.gov/advise. The White House plans to streamline or eliminate those overly burdensome, ineffective or outdated rules and says all comments submitted will be read carefully and action will be taken on many.


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