Division of Labor and Industry


MOSH Instruction 03-2 - Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)

TO: All MOSH Personnel
FROM: Cheryl Kammerman, Assistant Commissioner
SUBJECT: Interim Compliance Guidelines for Fall Protection for Residential Construction, 29 CFR 1926, Subpart M
REFERENCE: OSHA Instruction STD 3.1; MOSH Standards Notice 95-5; Attachment A-Questions and Answers
EFFECTIVE DATE: April 1, 2003
CANCELLATION: MOSH Standards Notice 96-1a; MOSH Memorandum 01-7; MOSH Memorandum 99-4
DATE: March 27, 2003
  1. Purpose and Scope:
  2. OSHA has decided to undertake further rulemaking regarding the Fall Protection Standard for Construction, 29 CFR Part 1926, Subpart M, and is moving toward the publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). This proceeding will address concerns raised by compliance personnel and by representatives of the residential construction industry. This instruction addresses the interim fall protection measures that will be acceptable for compliance with Section 1926.501(b)(13), residential construction, during the rulemaking period.

    Subpart M does not define "residential construction." For the purpose of applying this interim compliance directive, "residential construction" applies to all structures where the working environment- the construction materials, methods, and procedures employed – are essentially the same as those used for typical single-family or townhouse construction. It may be that some portions of a large commercial structure may come within the scope of this directive such as a shingled entranceway to a mall. In those cases the directive would only apply to the small portion of the project that is "residential-like" and the rest of the project would be subject to traditional enforcement under Subpart M.

    This directive applies only to construction activities and does not affect any general industrial activities, such as but not limited to tree trimming, that take place at residential sites.

    The procedures contained in this instruction will remain in effect until further notice, or superceded, or completion of a new formal rulemaking regarding Subpart M.

    Keep in mind that this interim policy only applies to work situations described herein. If other situations, outside the scope of this directive, are encountered, the employer shall be compliant with appropriate provisions in Subpart M.

    Please also be advised that certain criteria contained herein such as impalement hazards or overhead fall object hazards, while listed as preventative measures, shall continue to be cited under their specific standards and not necessarily under 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13)

  3. Background:
  1. On August 9, 1994, OSHA published a final rule on fall protection in the construction industry.
  2. The Commissioner of Labor and Industry adopted these standards effective January 30, 1995.
  3. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) have requested that OSHA reconsider how the standard would be applied to residential construction roofing activities, taking into account protective measures which while not recognized by Subpart M, are commonly used in the residential construction industry. OSHA acknowledges that the above-discussed concerns merit further consideration by the Agency. Therefore, OSHA has determined that it is appropriate to initiate further proceedings regarding Subpart M so that the Agency can reevaluate what constitutes adequate fall protection for various construction operations.

C.   Listed Activities:

There are four groups of residential construction activities for which alternative fall protection measures are available.

1. Group 1 - Installation of floor joists, floor sheathing, and erecting exterior walls.

2. Group 2 - Work on concrete block walls, concrete walls, and related formwork.

3. Group 3 - Work activities performed in attics and on roofs such as but not limited to plumbing, siding, HVAC, communication lines, insulation, carpentry, masonry, and other trade activities excluding roofing.

4. Group 4 - Erection of roof trusses and rafters; installation of roof sheathing; and roofing work, including removal, repair, or installation of roofing materials such as shingles, tile and tar paper.

D.  General Requirements That Apply to ALL FOUR GROUPS:

1. Fall Protection Plan (Plan)- A fall protection plan must be developed and implemented that identifies the competent person, trained employees, and procedures used to minimize hazards with elevated work places. This Plan does not have to be site specific or written.

2. Competent Person - The employer must designate a competent person to implement the fall protection plan on site. The competent person must be on site at all times and must continually monitor compliance with the Plan.

3. Designated/Trained Employees - Each employee performing work in ANY Group activity must be trained in requirements of the Plan. The employer must ensure the employees understand the procedures and follow the instructions of the competent person. Employees must be able to recognize unsafe/hazardous conditions including when compliance with the Plan creates a greater hazard and are instructed to report them to the competent person. Employees must also be trained in hazards associated with their specific Group activities, such as working near rake edges during roofing operations.

4. Training Certification - The employer must certify this training in writing and make it available upon request.

5. Adverse Weather/Secure Footing - The employer must ensure that workers remove slip hazards before walking/working on elevated surfaces. Such measures include removing mud from shoes or boots. When adverse weather such as high winds, rain, snow, or sleet is creating a hazardous condition, operations shall be suspended until such time as the hazardous condition no longer exists, unless safe footing can be ensured for workers.

6. Impalement Hazards - Materials and other objects that could impose impalement hazards shall be kept out of the area where employees are walking/working or properly guarded.

7. Material Staging - To minimize exposure to fall hazards, materials must be staged so as to reduce travel distances.

8. Accident Investigation/Plan Review- All accidents resulting in injury to workers shall be reported and investigated by the employer. To help prevent further accidents, the investigation must be documented so that the cause and means of prevention can be identified. In the event of a fall or other serious incident, the Plan shall be reviewed to determine if additional practices, procedures, or training need to be implemented.

In addition to the aforementioned general requirements, the following requirements must be followed:

  1. Group 1: Installation of Floor Joists, Floor Sheathing, and Erection of Exterior Walls when the Maximum Fall Potential does NOT exceed 25 feet
  1. Installation of Floor Joists

The first four floor joist/truss must be rolled into position and secured by workers on the ground, ladders, or scaffolds. Successive joists/trusses must be rolled into place. They are then to be secured from a platform. The platform is to be built from a sheet of plywood laid over the previously secured floor joists or trusses.

  1. Installation of Floor Sheathing

The first course of floor sheathing must be secured before additional courses are installed.

  3.   Erection of Exterior Walls

    1. Warning Line and Monitoring: A painted warning line six (6) feet from the perimeter will be clearly marked before any wall erection activities take place. A crew supervisor/foreman or designated person is required to monitor this work and warn anyone who approaches the unprotected edge.
    2. Workers constructing exterior walls shall complete as much cutting of materials and other preparatory work as possible away from the edge of the deck.

F.   Group 2: Working on Concrete Block Walls, Concrete Walls, and Related Formwork when the Maximum Fall Potential does NOT exceed 13 feet.

All walls and formwork shall be adequately supported before any worker can walk/work on top of the formwork. Workers shall access formwork only by safe means such as ladders, formwork steps, or bridging appropriately guarded.

G.  Group 3: Work activities performed in attics and on roofs such as, but not limited to plumbing, siding, HVAC, communication lines, insulation, carpentry, masonry, and other trade activities excluding roofing. The Maximum Fall Potential must NOT exceed 25 feet at the eave to lower level and 48 feet at roof peak. In addition, when working in attics the Interior Maximum Fall Potential must not exceed 13 feet.

    1. Materials and equipment for the work to be performed shall be located conveniently close to the workers but not stored within 6 feet of the rake edge.
    2. Employers shall not allow workers to ascend or descend the roof within 6 feet of the rake edge except where such a limit on movement would prevent the performance of work.
    3. The provisions of this instruction do not apply to work when done outside of attic or roof areas. Apply Subpart M to work with respect to stairways, stairway openings, walkways, floor or window openings, floor holes or other elevated openings or open sides.

H.  Group 4: Erecting roof trusses and rafters; installing roof sheathing; and roofing work including removal, repair, or installing weather proofing materials such as shingles, tile, and tar paper when the Maximum Fall Potential does NOT exceed 25 feet eave to lower level or 48 feet at the roof peak.

    1. Erecting roof trusses and rafters

a. Walls up to and including 10 feet

Interior scaffolds must be installed along the interior wall, below the area where the trusses/rafters will be located. This can often be accomplished with sawhorse scaffolds constructed of 46 inches sawhorses and 2"x 10" planks. Bracing operations shall follow the requirements of paragraph b below.

b. Walls over 10 feet

If using scaffolds and ladders throughout the process would create a greater hazard, the following general requirements and specific procedures apply:

i. Trusses must be braced in accordance with HIB-91 or manufacturer’s instructions before any worker may use them as a support.

ii. Top plate workers shall have no other duties during truss/rafter erection.

iii. The first two trusses/rafters must be set from ladders. The ladders must lean on side walls at points where the wall can support the load imposed by the ladder and worker. After the first two trusses/rafters have been set, workers will climb a ladder or equivalent to access the truss webbing/rafters in order to brace the peaks.

iv. Workers will remain on the top plate and use the previously stabilized trusses/rafters as support while the other trusses/rafters are erected.

v. Workers detaching trusses from cranes or securing trusses at the peaks may be positioned at the peak of the trusses. Trusses shall not be released from their lifting device until secured.

vi. Workers at the peak, in the web of trusses, or on top of the ridge beam shall either sit on a ridge seat (or the equivalent) or position themselves in previously stabilized trusses/rafters and lean into, and reach through, the trusses/rafters.

vii. Workers must not remain on or in the peak/ridge any longer than necessary to complete the task safely.

b2.  Installing roof sheathing

a. In addition to Adverse Weather/Secure Footing requirements under General Requirements, all sheathing operations must be suspended if winds exceed 40 miles per hour, unless wind breakers are erected.

b. Slide guards –

i. Bottom row: The bottom row of roof sheathing may be installed by workers standing in truss webs and leaning over the sheathing. After the bottom row is installed, a slide guard of at least four inches nominal in height shall be securely attached to the roof. It must extend across the full length of the roof.

ii. Slide guard intervals: Roof slopes greater than 4 in 12 and up to and including 9 in 12 require additional slide guards at 13 foot intervals as successive rows of sheathing are installed.

iii. Slide guard intervals: Roof slopes over 9 in 12 require additional slide guards at four foot intervals.

NOTE: These slide guard requirements, which come from Appendix E, differ from those for roofing work.

3. Performing roofing work - including removal, repair, or installing roofing materials such as shingles, tile, and tar paper.

NOTE: Alternatives to the requirements of the standards are not available for roof slopes over 8 in 12 OR eave height over 25’.

  1. The employer shall have any damaged portions of the roof deck repaired as soon as practicable. Any holes, including skylight openings, or other areas where employees would not have safe footing shall be covered or surrounded by guardrails that comply with the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.502.
  2. On roofs with a slope of 4 in 12 or less, employees shall be protected by conventional fall protection methods or a safety monitoring system which meets the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.502, or they shall be protected by the use of roofing slide guards as outlined below.  Slide guards must be used when the roof slope is greater than 4 in 12 and up to and including 8 in 12.
  3. If ladders or scaffolds are used, they shall be erected and maintained in accordance with the requirements of Subpart L and X of 29 CFR 1926. The training requirements of these subparts are also applicable.
  4. Supplies and materials shall not be stored within 6 feet of the rake edge, or 3 feet where tile roof systems are being installed. Employers shall also not allow workers to ascend or descend within 6 feet of the rake edge except where such a limit on movement would prevent the performance of work.
  5. Employers who use roofing slide guards as fall protection during the performance of roofing work shall take the following steps, in addition to those steps outlined above:

i. On roofs with slopes less than or equal to 6 in 12, roofing slide guards shall be installed continuously along the eave. To accomplish this, not more than 3 rows of roofing material shall be applied first. Then, the roof jacks or equivalent supports shall be installed using nails long enough to hold the slide guard in place should any employee slide down the roof and contact the slide guard. The angle of the slide guard system shall be approximately 90 degrees, +/- 10, to the roof. A minimum of 2" x 6" nominal lumber shall be used.

ii. On roofs with slopes greater than 6 in 12, up to and including 8 in 12, eave slide guards shall be installed and additional slide guards shall be installed below the work area at intervals not to exceed 8 feet. To install the slide guards, the employee, while standing on the plank below, shall secure the roof jacks with nails and then install the planks. The employee can then climb up to the plank and continue the roofing work. Although the eave slide guards must run the entire eave’s length and must be at approximately a 90 degree angle to the roof, higher slide guards need only be long enough to provide protection below the area of the roof where work is being performed and may be more level, if desired. Once the roof is installed to the ridge, the employee will climb down to the lower plank and remove the planks and roof jacks from the higher level. The employee shall continue this process until all planks and roof jacks are removed. Only when the job is completed can the remaining eave planks and roof jacks be removed.

iii. On roofs with slopes greater than 8 in 12 and on roofs with slopes greater than 4 in 12, where the eave to lower level fall distance is more than 25 feet, employers shall have workers use one of the conventional methods of fall protection, i.e., safety nets, guardrails, or personal fall arrest systems as provided in 29 CFR 1926.502.

I. Action:

1. MOSH compliance personnel will enforce the standards in a manner consistent with the guidelines provided.

2. Failure to provide fall protection in accordance with any part of this directive shall be cited as a violation(s) of Subpart M.

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