New OSHA Fall Protection Requirements Apply to IN Residential Contractors

By: Sean T. Devenney

On October 1, 2011, Indiana OSHA will begin enforcing new federally mandated safety regulations requiring residential contractors to comply with OSHA requirements relating to fall protection.  According to the regulation, individuals working 6 feet or more above the next level subject to some limited exceptions must be protected by conventional fall protection (i.e., guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems).  However, if a contractor can demonstrate that such conventional fall protection is infeasible or presents a greater hazard, it may implement a formal fall protection plan. The fall protection plan’s alternative measures must, however utilize safe work practices that eliminate or reduce the possibility of a fall. The plan must be written and be site-specific.

Obviously, this change requiring a residential contractor to comply with the construction industry standards that have already been in place for commercial projects will have a significant impact on those that work on residential projects.  Many in the industry believe that these measures will decrease productivity and may not lead to a significant decrease in accidents.  Residential contractors should expect that Indiana OSHA will focus some significant attention on the residential construction market as Indiana OSHA seeks to raise the awareness of the new application of the fall protection rules to the residential marketplace.  For more information on these new regulations, check out the IOSHA Residential Fall Protection Enforcement Directive found on the IOSHA website.