Be prepared for increased OSHA enforcement action

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced last month that it will phase in enforcement of its fall protection regulations for residential construction sites.
In a June 8 letter to NAHB, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, announced a three month phase-in period to allow residential construction companies additional time to come into compliance with the Agency’s new directive Compliance Guidance for Residential Construction (STD 03-11-002).
This decision is in response to a meeting between NAHB and OSHA’s leadership on May 26, during which NAHB First Vice Chairman Barry Rutenberg and Dean Mon, Chairman of NAHB’s Construction Safety and Health Committee, argued that builders need additional time to fully understand the steps that must be taken and to properly plan for the fall protection change. NAHB also stressed there is a continued need for more fall protection training and compliance assistance for residential construction employers.
The effective date of the new regulation is June 16 and the 90-day phase-in period will run through September 15.

OSHA’s field staff have now been instructed that for the first three months in which the new directive is in effect, the agency will not issue fall protection citations to home builders who are using the protective measures in the old residential construction fall protection directive (STD 03-00-001). Instead, where necessary, OSHA will issue a hazard alert letter informing the builder of the feasible methods that can be used to comply with OSHA’s fall protection standard or the need for a written fall protection plan to be implemented. If the builder’s practices do not meet the minimum requirements set in the old directive — or if a company fails to implement the fall protection measures outlined in a hazard alert letter and during a subsequent inspection OSHA should find violations involving the same hazards — the agency will at that time issue a citation.

In addition, OSHA has announced that it is increasing the dollar amounts of fines associated with citations. Fines are expect to increase from an average of $1,000 to $4,000. The maximum penalty is $70,000. Click here to read a detailed assessment of OSHA’s new fines in NAHB’s EH&S Monthly newsletter.

Builders and trade contractors should pay particular attention to the following hazards, which are the top 10 most frequently-cited OSHA standards for construction in 2010 (with the reference to the specific OSHA standard in parentheses):
  1. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451)
  2. Fall Protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
  3. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)
  4. Fall Protection, training requirements (29 CFR 1926.503)
  5. Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200)
  6. General Safety & Health Provisions (29 CFR 1926.20)
  7. Head Protection (29 CFR 1926.100)
  8. Aerial Lifts (29 CFR 1926.453)
  9. Eye & Face Protection (29 CFR 1926.102)
  10. Excavation, specific excavation requirements (29 CFR 1926.651)
There are a few simple things that builders and trade contractors should do to be prepared for OSHA inspections. These include:
  • Conducting an assessment to identify and correct safety hazards on the job site.
  • Conducting appropriate safety training for employees — such as fall protection and ladder safety training.
  • Updating records and making sure they are readily available.
  • Understanding the OSHA inspection process.
NAHB has multiple resources that are designed to assist member in achieving compliance with OSHA’s rules, including handbooks and videos. Order these materials at by clicking here. Additional compliance safety information is available at by clicking here.
Additional resources are available from OSHA:
Additional resources have been added to the HBA of Greenville’s website. Click here to access these construction site resources at
Additional resources also are available on NAHB’s website. Click here to access these construction site resources at