OSHA strengthens rules on fall protection and outreach training | nnbusinessview.com

OSHA strengthens rules on fall protection and outreach training

John Skowronek

It has been a busy spring for OSHA. In addition to defending its mission to a skeptical Congress, OSHA has been working on implementing (or rescinding) alternative residential fall-protection rules that have been in place since 1999 and has just issued new rules revamping the outreach training program. Both of these initiatives have an impact on Nevada contractors.

Residential contractors and roofers have, since 1999, enjoyed an exception to the conventional fall-protection rules that have allowed them to use alternative fall protection, including slide guards and safety monitoring systems without the need for a formal, written fall protection plan. Effective June 16, 2011, the 1999 directive that allowed those practices is being rescinded and contractors will now have to follow the more stringent conventional fall protection rules. In April the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the June implementation of the new OSHA directive after a challenge by the National Roofing Contractors Association.

This new directive will require that all residential contractors (including, but not limited to builders, roofers, electricians, plumbers and solar installers) performing any work on a roof where their workers are exposed to falls greater than 6 feet, will have to use conventional fall protection (guardrail systems, safety net systems or personal fall-arrest systems) or have a written fall protection plan.

The requirement for written plans is not new; it has been in the OSHA standards for many years. What is new is that residential contractors had been exempt from having a written plan as long as they followed certain guidelines in the OSHA standards. Now, effective June 16, unless conventional fall protection is used, contractors must have a written “site-specific” fall protection plan developed by a “qualified person” and implemented by a “competent person.” In addition, any employees working in any “controlled access zone” created by such a plan must have site-specific fall hazard awareness training certified in writing by the employer and kept on site at all times.

The OSHA outreach training guidelines have also changed and are especially important to Nevada contractors because Nevada is one of only seven states that require the OSHA 10-hour and 30-hour outreach training classes for anyone working on a construction site. The new rules have updated standards for OSHA authorized outreach trainers (the only ones OSHA allows to teach the 10- and 30-hour courses) including new ethical and performance standards.

In addition, the new rules specifically require that the OSHA 10- or 30-hour courses must comply with the following:

* All outreach trainers, both construction and general industry must meet certain instructional standards as well as signing a “statement of compliance” and abide by a training “code of conduct;”

* Trainers must document training within 30 days and provide OSHA completion cards within 90 days and such cards must be provided to the employee not the employer regardless of who paid for the class;

* Training can be a maximum of 7.5 hours per day with break and lunch periods required;

* Videos cannot exceed 25 percent of the course content;

* At least 2 hours of Introduction to OSHA must be taught and at least 12 handouts must be provided for all trainees;

* Training must be taught in a language that the trainees understand. If interpreters are used, they too must have a background in safety and health and unless the interpreters are OSHA-authorized outreach trainers, the length of the training sessions must be doubled when utilizing an interpreter;

* All 10-hour construction courses must now include a minimum of four hours training on the “focus four,” the four leading causes of death in construction;

* All 30-hour classes, both construction and general industry, must include two hours on “Managing Safety and Health” which may include injury and illness prevention planning , hazard prevention and control, accident investigations, how to conduct safety meetings and supervisory communication;

* No replacement cards will be issued for lost cards if more than three years has elapsed since the initial training;

* There is a maximum of one replacement card issued per student, and a replacement card fee will be required; and

* No classes will be permitted with more than 40 students or less than at least three students without pre-approval from OSHA upon proof of extenuating circumstances. OSHA will not consider cost savings, trainer availability, time limits, or missing work as extenuating circumstances.

The new OSHA rules are in furtherance of OSHA’s ongoing efforts to provide safer working conditions for workers and employers should become familiar with these changes so that they can be in compliance. More information can be found on the OSHA Web site at http://www.osha.gov.

John Skowronek is a human resource specialist and OSHA trainer providing staffing and training services to Nevada businesses. His Reno-based staffing company is Square One Solutions. Contact him at 825-9675.


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