Recently enacted OSHA restrictions on alternative fall protection are designed to give residential builders a forceful nudge toward conventional fall-protection systems - like the retractable lanyard shown here.
Recently enacted OSHA restrictions on alternative fall protection are designed to give residential builders a forceful nudge toward conventional fall-protection systems - like the retractable lanyard shown here.

Near the end of last year, builders got some unexpected - and unwelcome - news from OSHA. As of June 16, 2011, the agency announced, residential builders and subcontractors would no longer be permitted to work under an interim guideline that had effectively exempted them from some provisions of its fall-protection standard. Although not technically a new rule, the change means that residential fall-protection requirements will revert to the more restrictive standard that had been in effect in 1995. Builders who hope to remain compliant with the revised regulations now have about three months to overhaul their fall-protection procedures.

Where we are, and how we got here. In 1994, OSHA enacted Standard 1926.501, subpart M, which laid out fall-protection regulations for the construction industry as a whole. For residential builders, the key section was - and is - 126.501(b)(13), which mandates that employees engaged in residential construction at a height of more than 6 feet...

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