As you may recall, OSHA issued a new compliance guideline for residential construction in December, 2010. This new guidelines required guard rail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems for all workers engaged in residential construction six feet or more above lower levels. Not surprisingly, the new guideline created significant controversy among many residential contractors and contractors/builders associations.

Shortly after this announcement, OSHA issued a phase-in period, in essence a stay of enforcement for 90 days. During this stay, OSHA informed its staff that this new guideline would be a priority for the remainder of the year and requested that its investigator provide assistance to employers. If an employer is found to be in good faith compliance with the old directive, it would be entitled to an additional 10% good faith reduction in penalties and allowed 30 days to correct fall protection violations.

That stay was originally extended into March, 2012. This past February, OSHA extended the stay/phase-in period to September 15, 2012. During the next 6 months OSHA will continue to make fall protection on residential construction the highest priority and will continue to allow good faith reductions in penalties and corrective measures for all violations.

While the stay is in effect, OSHA still recommends that contractors acquire the required personal protective equipment and implement policies to support this program.