MNOSHA Weighing Comments on Window Washing Rule

Only six comments were submitted by the Nov. 30 deadline, and too few requests came in to hold a public hearing, said Carrie Rohling, rules coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.

The comment period has closed on a Minnesota OSHA proposed rule to require employers to provide fall protection for window washing employees and take other steps to ensure window cleaning and building maintenance operations are done safely.

Only six comments were received by the Nov. 30 deadline, said Carrie Rohling, rules coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. "The Department did not receive enough requests to hold a hearing and received 6 comments," she wrote Dec. 7 in an email reply about the rule's status. "The comments are being reviewed and will be considered before moving forward with this proposed rule."

The rule would create a part 5205.0730, Window Washing: Building Maintenance, in Minnesota's Occupational Safety and Health Rules. It would apply to all window cleaning or building maintenance performed inside or outside any building, structure, or skyway when the work is done from a level more than 14 feet above grade or on an adjoining flat roof or other flat surface. It would not apply to cleaning or building maintenance performed from grade level or from a ladder supported at grade.

The rule says anyone performing window cleaning or building maintenance must provide a written plan to the building owner or its operating agent. The plan must detail locations where workers may use suspended equipment or be exposed to falls or other known hazards; safety features to be used, "which shall include self-rescue"; a step-by-step procedure for controlling each hazardous area or drop zone; and an on-site evaluation of the plan's implementation by the employer or a qualified individual.

Training, fall protection, certified anchorages, and visual inspection of the building's exterior also are spelled out in the rule, which was published in the Minnesota State Register on Oct. 31 (starting on page 24). It would prohibit the use of a rope descent system for heights greater than 300 feet "unless the employer can demonstrate that access cannot otherwise be attained safely and practicably."

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