OSHA clarifies inspector discretion in Steel Erection standard

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Washington – OSHA inspectors should use their regular citation discretion and evaluate a number of factors when considering employer compliance with fall protection requirements in the Steel Erection standard, a May 21 memorandum to the agency’s regional administrators said.

The standard – 1926.754(b)(3) – requires either a fully planked or decked floor or nets to be maintained directly under erection work. Previously, employers were considered in compliance if they instead used 100 percent fall protection. This action was referred to as a “de minimis” violation, which is considered minor and for which no citation may be issued. The “de minimis” policy was rescinded (.pdf file) in 2009.

In instances when employers use fall protection instead of following the standard’s requirements, the memo clarifies inspectors should use their discretion on a case-by-case basis for issuing a citation by considering if 100 percent fall protection was provided, if the employer had provisions for a prompt rescue in the event of a fall, and if protection from falling objects was provided.

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