In December, OSHA announced a three-month extension of its temporary enforcement guidelines for residential fall protection. That marked the fourth consecutive short-term extension of the guidelines since the new fall-protection rule — generally referred to as Subpart M — was fully implemented in September 2011. The guidelines are now set to expire on March 15. (Builders who have grown comfortable with those repeated extensions should remember that the fall-protection rules themselves are still very much in effect — the temporary enforcement guidelines simply hold out the possibility of mitigated penalties for builders who have made good-faith efforts to comply.)

This latest extension will probably benefit some builders who are still struggling to comply with the rule. But the evident need for yet another extension also lends credence to what critics of Subpart M have been saying all along: that the rule is too complicated and difficult to use effectively on the job site.

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