- Q.Your May 2001 article "Fall
Protection Update" says that OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926
requires fall protection for anyone working above 6
feet. Here in Washington state, I understand that the
standard applies when there is a 10-foot fall
potential. What accounts for the discrepancy?
A.Steve Cant, federal-state
operations manager at the Washington Department of
Labor and Industries, responds: You are
correct that the fall protection standard used in
Washington differs from the OSHA standard. The
State of Washington, like 26 other states and
territories, is authorized by OSHA to operate a
state plan for occupational safety and health. In
fact, Washington had a state-operated program long
before Congress passed the OSHA legislation. State
plans are required to be as effective as any
applicable OSHA standards, although they are not
required to be identical.
Unlike the OSHA standard, Washington’s
fall protection standard relies on a "firm 10-foot"
rule applied throughout the construction industry.
The federal OSHA standard includes a range of
requirements, depending on the type of construction
activity involved; it even allows employers to
declare that fall protection is not readily
feasible in cases where the State of Washington
requires it to be implemented. Washington has
enforced the 10-foot fall protection requirement in
residential construction for more than ten years.
In combination with requirements for
walking-working surfaces at 4 feet, and special
precautions above 6 feet, the consistent
requirement for using fall restraint devices above
10 feet has proven to be an easily understood and
applied alternative to OSHA’s