Construction workers in Oregon will have a better chance at going home safely at the end of the day due to two new OSHA rules going into effect this year.
Starting January 1, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division’s minimum height at which workers must be protected from falls is now six feet. The previous trigger point was 10 feet.
The six-foot trigger-height requirement is not entirely new for Oregon construction contractors. It has been required for many years for work on established floors, mezzanines, balconies, and walkways that have unprotected sides and edges. Many large commercial construction contractors already require the use of fall protection at six feet. The new rule will affect contractors working on single story buildings with ground to eave heights between six and ten feet.
As of October 1 this year, slide guards will not be acceptable safety protection for workers on sloped roofs. Instead, contractors will be required to provide a different protection method such as personal fall arrest and fall restraint systems.
“We’ve come a long way in Oregon in reducing injuries and deaths from falls, particularly in construction, but we still have a ways to go,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “The new standards further underscore the importance of employers and employees working together to bring all of their safety tools to bear as we enter 2017.”
The construction industry has had the greatest number of fatal and nonfatal traumatic brain injuries nationwide. According to OSHA, 2,210 construction workers died due to traumatic brain injury between 2003 and 2010.
Oregon OSHA took the step to change existing fall safety requirements to meet federal OSHA rules.