Fall Protection: The New Standard for Roofers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a new directive withdrawing a former one that allowed residential builders to bypass fall protection requirements. The former directive had allowed residential roofers to utilize alternative fall protection means to protect their workers from falls during their work processes. The use of alternative means including slide guards must be incorporated with conventional fall protection plans and devices. The new ruling will take effect on June 16, 2011.

Roofing companies will now need to have a site specific program written for each project they will perform where conventional fall protection will not be feasible. Conventional fall protection includes a full body harness, a deceleration device, a lanyard, and an anchor point, guard rails and safety nets. The site specific program must specify alternative measures that will be used to eliminate or reduce the potential of employee falls. OSHA has defined “residential construction” as a two part definition; both parts must be met to fall under the new directive:

  1. The end-use of the structure being built must be as a home, i.e., a dwelling; and
  2. The structure being built must be constructed using traditional wood frame construction materials and methods.

When both parts of the definition are met the roofing company must implement a fall protection program that meets or exceeds the fall protection program directed by OSHA. OSHA has a sample program for companies to utilize during the development of the site specific program. Appendix E in subpart M of CFR 1926 contains the sample program. When contracting a roofing company to perform work at your site…verify they know about the new requirements to prevent a visit from OSHA.