September 9, 2015
On February 6, 2015, the residential fall protection standard under Arizona Revised Statute Nos. 23-492 that has been in place since 2012 was formally rejected and overruled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). More specifically, the federal government agency said no to the state’s benchmark requirement that conventional fall protection should be provided in “residential construction” when employees are exposed to heights of 15 feet or greater. Instead, the federal OSHA trigger height for mandatory fall protection, which is 6 feet, should now also be enforced in the state.
Since 1995 fatal falls from heights greater than 6 feet have averaged approximately 33 percent of all construction deaths. According to OSHA, workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they fall, and to protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear. But falls can be prevented when workers understand proper set-up and safe use of equipment. Thus, the federal government agency is advising employers to train their workers in hazard recognition and in the care and safe use ladders, scaffolds, fall protection systems, and other equipment that they will be using on the job.
To prevent employees from being injured from falls, OSHA, in general, requires employers to use safe work procedures; train workers in the proper selection, use, and maintenance of all protection systems; use proper construction and installation of safety systems; select fall protection systems appropriate for given situations; and supervise employees properly. OSHA is giving away free downloadable educational materials for employers and workers to use.
As for Arizona’s roofing industry professionals, the Arizona Roofing Contractors Association (ARCA) is offering members free fall protection training which covers discussions on such topics as recognition of the need for fall protection, the proper use of personal protective equipment, understanding the physics of fall arrest, how to calculate total fall distance, how to initiate a job-action plan, how to execute fall protection rescue, and how to evaluate your protection preparedness. The ARCA is also offering free 10-hour and 30-hour courses on OSHA safety regulatory rules, programs and practices.