Workers engaged in heavy construction are frequently exposed to hand and arm vibration.

OSHA Removes De Minimis Policy in Steel Erection Directive

Sept. 30's revised compliance directive for the Steel Erection Standard says it is no longer a de minimis violation if steel erection workers are wearing PPE but the requirements for a fully planked or decked floor or use of a net aren't met.

OSHA has revised its 2002 compliance directive telling inspectors how to enforce requirements of the Steel Erection Standard. The Sept. 30 revised compliance directive says it is no longer a de minimis violation if steel erection workers are wearing fall protection PPE but the requirements for a fully planked or decked floor or use of a net aren't met. At 29 CFR 1926.754(b)(3), the standard says employers must install a floor or net within two stories or 30 feet, whichever is less.

Also removed  is the de minimis violation if workers wear fall protection PPE but steel studs, known as shear connectors, are not field-installed after decking is installed, as required by 29 CFR 1926.754(c)(1). Shear connectors bind concrete to the steel. This section of hte standard is an engineering control intended to prevent tripping, and therefore reduces the risk of injury from falling on a shear connector as well as faling from structural steel, the revised directive states.

"Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers," Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab said in OSHA's release announcing the changes. "We are intent on reducing the number of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry and believe these policy revisions will help us attain that goal."

Bureau of Labor Statistics 2007 data show that 1,204 fatalities occurred in the construction industry, 447 of which resulted from falls. The Steel Erection Standard contains requirements to protect workers from the hazards associated with steel erection activities when constructing, altering, and repairing single and multi-story buildings, bridges, and other structures where steel erection occurs.

The revised directive is available here.

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