MIOSHA Announces New Fall Protection Requirements for Residential Construction and Launches Initiative to Protect Residential Construction Workers

Contact: Mario L. Morrow 517-373-9280
Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

April 4, 2011 - The number one cause of death and serious injury at residential construction sites is falls by employees working above the ground on roofs, ladders and scaffolding.

At the request of the National Association of Home Builders, the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) changed its requirements for residential fall protection. OSHA's new residential fall protection requirements go into effect June 16, 2011.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) is required to adopt these changes, which will also go into effect June 16, 2011.

The key change requires employees working six feet or more above a lower level to use guardrails, safety nets, or a personal fall arrest system. When conventional fall protection is not feasible, or creates a greater hazard, a written site-specific plan may be used.

"We know that most fatalities and serious accidents can be prevented when employers follow the rules and apply effective worker safeguards on every jobsite where hazards are present," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski. "We are working diligently to share information with employers and workers before these changes go into effect."

MIOSHA, in partnership with the Michigan Association of Home Builders (MAHB) and local home builder associations, are launching a "Residential Fall Protection Initiative" to help employers protect their workers and comply with the new requirements.

"By working together to reach out, educate, and lead our members and their employees in improving and advancing workplace safety and health we can make a difference in construction safety," said Lee Schwartz, Executive Vice President for Governmental Relations for the MAHB. "We want to see every residential construction worker return to their families at the end of the day without injury. The best way to achieve that goal is through a safe and healthy work environment."

"Construction safety is a top priority of the MAHB," said Schwartz, "and we are proud of the partnership that the MAHB and MIOSHA have created. The benefits of this cooperation will be felt for many years to come in the form of greater safety awareness and fewer onsite injuries." MIOSHA is launching this proactive initiative to provide residential construction contractors with useful information to help them comply with the new fall protection requirements and to remind employers they are required to provide the appropriate protection and training to employees exposed to fall hazards.

Falls accounted for nearly one-third of the construction workplace fatalities investigated by the MIOSHA Construction Safety and Health Division over the past five years. The third most frequently cited violation was Rule 1926.501(b)(13) - Employees engaged in residential construction activities were not protected from falling 6 feet or more.

The MIOSH Act requires employers to provide "a workplace free of recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to the employees." The purpose of MIOSHA safety and health rules is to set minimum requirements and provide guidelines for identifying and correcting the hazards contributing to injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

As part of the initiative, MIOSHA developed a Residential Fall Protection fact sheet which details the new requirements and provides basic compliance information. The fact sheet also covers alternate protection plans, MIOSHA's new enforcement policy, a new definition of residential construction and additional resources.

The MIOSHA Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division and MAHB are offering Residential Fall Protection training seminars around the state to help contractors comply with the new regulations. For more information employers can contact the CET Division at 517-322-1809 or go to www.michigan.gov/mioshatraining. They can also go to http://www.buildingmichigan.org and click on the "education" link to see the list of more than 20 seminars offered by MIOSHA and local home builder associations.

The fact sheet and more detailed information on compliance are available on our website at www.michigan.gov/miosha, in the MIOSHA Initiatives section, under Residential Fall Protection Initiative.

As part of the initiative, MIOSHA and MAHB are mailing letters and the Residential Fall Protection fact sheet to more than 8,500 Michigan contractors to help them address the fall hazards in residential construction.

"MIOSHA's mission is to help prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities, and to ensure that effective tools and training are available to employers," said Kalinowski. "We encourage residential construction contractors to use all available resources, including MIOSHA outreach services, to protect their workers from fall hazards."