ABC Aug 23 filed comments with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding a proposed rule that would change the general industry standards for safety requirements related to ladders, scaffolds and fall protection.  

In the proposed rule, OSHA lists several requirements for rope descent systems used frequently in window cleaning; reiterates the requirement that employers provide fall protection when employees could fall a distance of at least four feet; and proposes to eliminate the use of body belts as part of personal fall arrest systems.  

In its comments, ABC commends OSHA on its goal of increasing consistency between industry standards, but pointed out that the proposed rule would increase confusion for employers in the construction industry because the standards don’t match exactly.  ABC pointed out that many in the construction industry will be required to learn an entirely new set of requirements, different from both previous standards.  

“In some cases, provisions have been revised from the existing general industry standard, but rather than bring these areas in line with construction standards, OSHA opted to create entirely new language,” the comments stated. “Under the standards as currently written, contractors and workers involved in construction renovation, maintenance and repair are already routinely confused about which set of standards should apply to certain tasks under certain circumstances. It is difficult to understand how this added confusion will lead to improved safety.”  

ABC also objected to the proposed rule in part because it replaced specific language in the existing standard with more general language and that it reads more like a “general duty” clause meaning that it would be more useful as a citation tool, rather than a compliance directive.  

For more information, visit the OSHA website