Fall protection on finished bridge decks

September 3, 2013

Mr. Larry F***
Tampa, Florida  33624

Dear Mr. F***:

Thank you for your letter dated April 5, 2013 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In your letter you discussed safe guarding for employees required to work next to finished concrete barriers commonly used in highway construction. Most of these barriers are only 32 inches high. Employees could be exposed to falls of 6 feet or more when performing ancillary tasks, such as painting or removal of concrete curing material. You stated that the vast majority of Department of Transportation Contracts through the Federal Highway Administration have contract specifications that do not permit the use of systems such as anchorages for a personal fall protection system if there is a need to penetrate the surface of decks or barrier walls. While it's an accepted practice to use job-fabricated wooden built-up rail systems, you point out that this could entail tens of thousands of circular saw cuts. You contend that exposure to cuts and ergonomic considerations of these systems create greater hazards to employees than that of a fall exposures. Given your scenario we paraphrased above, you asked the following question:
Would the use of high visibility warning stripes placed on the decking during construction and subsequent use of permanent pavement markings in conjunction with training and enforcement meet the requirements for protection of workers having to walk and/or travel along decks between the offset markings when the edges are protected with a finished 32 inch high barrier wall?

Answer:
No. Using a 32" high concrete barrier to serve as a guardrail to protect employees doesn't comply with minimum top edge requirement of the guardrail system to be 42 inches high plus or minus 3 inches.

The fabricated plywood saddle system described in your letter is one of many systems that can be used. On May 10, 2013, we briefly discussed alternatives such as c-clamp guardrail systems that are easily transportable and available for rent. We also discussed OSHA's alternative uses of warning line systems meeting the requirements defined in 29 CFR 1926.502(f)(2) providing it's use maintains a "no entry" 15 foot setback from an edge or hole 6 feet or more above a lower level. You indicated that your employees would need to work within the 15 foot restriction and thus a warning line system would be infeasible. See the attached Letter of Interpretation. This letter can also be found on OSHA's website at the following link: http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=24802

Enforcement policy for proximity alarm & insulating link use

March 31, 2014
MEMORANDUM FOR: REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS
FROM:    JAMES G. MADDUX

SUBJECT:   Temporary Enforcement Policy for Proximity Alarm and Insulating Link Use with Cranes and Derricks in Construction

Effective April 30, 2014, until further notice, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) intends to follow the temporary enforcement policy described below for use of proximity alarms and insulating links with cranes or derricks while engaged in construction activities near power lines. OSHA initially adopted a temporary enforcement policy for the use of these devices in a June 25, 2012 memorandum, and it was effective July 26, 2012 through November 8, 2013. This memorandum supersedes OSHA's June 25, 2012 memorandum.
The Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard, 29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC ("cranes standard"), includes several options for cranes and derricks performing construction activities near power lines. Some of the options involve proximity alarms or insulating links/devices. Section 1926.1401 of the cranes standard defines "proximity alarm" and "insulating link/device" as devices that warn of proximity to power lines or that insulate against electricity and that have been "...listed, labeled or accepted by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory in accordance with § 29 CFR 1910.7" ("NRTL requirements"). These pieces of safety equipment must meet the performance requirements and the NRTL requirements as defined in § 1926.1401-Definitions to be used on cranes and derricks in construction.
To date, no proximity alarm or insulating link/device meets the NRTL requirements. Additionally, at this time, no NRTL is recognized by the Agency to perform the required testing to list, label or accept either type device. Proximity alarms and insulating links/devices which do not meet the NRTL requirements continue to be available, as they have for decades. These versions have not been "...listed, labeled or accepted by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory." OSHA does not anticipate proximity alarms or insulating links/devices which meet the NRTL requirements to be available in the near future.
Because there are no compliant proximity alarms or insulating links/devices, OSHA intends to follow the temporary policy noted below until further notice and will engage in rulemaking to address the unavailability of proximity alarms and insulating links/devices which meet these NRTL requirements. The temporary policy is for:
  • proximity alarm use under § 1926.1407-Power line safety (up to 350 kV)-assembly and disassembly;
  • proximity alarm and insulating link use under § 1926.1408-Power line safety (up to 350 kV)-equipment operations;
  • proximity alarm and insulating link use under § 1926.1409-Power line safety (over 350 kV) through §§ 1926.1407 and 1926.1408; and
  • insulating link/device use under § 1926.1410-Power line safety (all voltages)-equipment operations closer than the Table A zone.
Proximity Alarms

Because no current proximity alarms meet the NRTL requirements, employers may not rely solely on proximity alarms to comply with the requirements of the cranes standard. However, an employer may use a crane/derrick in construction with a proximity alarm in conjunction with another appropriate "measure" from §§ 1926.1407(b)(3) or 1926.1408(b)(4), such as a "dedicated spotter" or "range control warning device." If these conditions are met, the employer will not be considered to be in violation of either §§ 1926.1407(b)(3) or 1926.1408(b)(4), including situations where voltages are over 350 kV as referenced in § 1926.1409.

Insulating Links/Devices

Because no current insulating links/devices meet the NRTL requirements in the § 1926.1401 definition for "insulating link/device," employers may not rely solely on an insulating link/device to comply with requirements of the cranes standard. However, an employer may use a crane/derrick in construction with an insulating link in conjunction with another appropriate "measure" from § 1926.1408(b)(4), such as a "dedicated spotter" or "range control warning device." If these conditions are met, the employer will not be considered to be in violation of § 1926.1408(b)(4), including situations where voltages are over 350kV as referenced in § 1926.1409. Additionally, OSHA will not cite any employer for a violation of § 1926.1410(d)(4) (requirement that an insulating link/device be "installed at a point between the end of the load line (or below) and the load") if an employer is using an insulating link/device manufactured on any date, as specified in § 1926.1410(d)(4)(v)(A), and in conjunction with the additional protections in § 1926.1410(d)(4)(v)(B), such as insulated gloves rated for the voltage involved.

Informal hearing on proposed extension of crane operator certification deadline

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April 15, 2014
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA schedules informal hearing on proposed extension of crane
operator certification deadline

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today scheduled an informal public hearing to discuss OSHA’s proposed rule to extend the compliance date for the crane operator certification requirement and the existing phase-in requirement that employers ensure that their operators are qualified to operate the equipment. The hearing will be held May 19, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

On Feb. 10, 2014, OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to extend the deadline for operator certification by three years to Nov. 10, 2017, and to extend the existing employer duties for the same period. The public had 30 days to submit comments on this issue. The comment period closed on March 12, 2014. The agency received 60 comments from the public in response to the NPRM, one of which requested a hearing. 

The purpose of the hearing is to gather additional information related to whether OSHA should extend the requirement by three years or not at all.

The public hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m., Monday, May 19 in the auditorium of the U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20210. Individuals who wish to testify must submit a notice of intention to appear by April 25. Submissions may be made electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, by mail or facsimile. See the Federal Register notice for submission details.

"Qualified Rigger"

March 18, 2014

Eric M. D*** 
Washington, DC 20006

Dear Mr. D***:

Thank you for your March 12, 2013, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You asked a question regarding the determination of whether an employee may be considered a "qualified rigger" under 29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC (Cranes and Derricks in Construction).

We have paraphrased your question as follows:

Question: Can a labor-management joint apprenticeship training program that is a "qualified evaluator (third party)" for purposes of ensuring that signal persons meet qualification requirements also provide training regarding "qualified rigger" status?

Answer: Yes, but the employer is responsible for ensuring that any employee who rigs materials is a qualified rigger. The employer may consider determinations made by a third party, such as completion of a joint labor management apprenticeship training program, in assessing whether an employee is in fact a "qualified rigger." While such programs generally provide high-quality classroom and hands-on instruction, the employer must ensure that an employee assigned to rig a load is a qualified rigger with respect to that specific lift.
29 CFR 1926.1401 defines a "qualified rigger" as:
[A] rigger who meets the criteria for a qualified person.
29 CFR 1926.1401 defines a "qualified person" as:
[A] person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, successfully demonstrated the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.
The level of experience, knowledge, and skill needed to perform a rigging job safely depends on the type of rigging and worksite conditions. The employer must ensure that the rigger has the ability to recognize and resolve any issues relating to the specific rigging work to be performed.
The cranes standard does not require or refer to third party evaluators with respect to qualified riggers. The standard's provisions regarding riggers differ in this respect from those regarding signal persons, to which your letter refers, under which documentation from a "qualified evaluator (third party)" is an alternative means of compliance. As noted, the employer may consider determinations made by a third party such as a joint apprenticeship program, but it retains responsibility for ensuring that any employee assigned to rig a load is qualified.
This interpretation is consistent with OSHA's discussion of qualified riggers in a letter to William K. Irwin, Jr., dated January 9, 2012, available here:
https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=28268.