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OSHA RULES: A New Normal

by Jim Baty, CFA Technical Director,

In an increasing environment of employee protection and conservatism for risk management, OSHA has completed work on two major areas affecting the residential foundation industry. Depending on the scope of your business and the project types you are involved, your company should immediately begin taking the steps necessary to educate and ensure compliance.

Your CFA membership can be a vital part of the success for implementing changes to your plan. What follows is a summary of the action OSHA has taken on fall protection and crane certification/inspection and what the CFA is currently doing to provide resources for you. Additionally, the Annual Summer Convention this year in Wintergreen, Virginia will offer content on these potentially significant changes to your work environment and an excellent forum for you to see how others are evolving their methods for compliance and advantage.


In June of 1999, OSHA issued an instruction standard STD 03-00-001 as a revision to the language of STD 3.1 for interim fall protection compliance guidelines. This instruction released the foundation contractor from fall protection requirements on work under 10-ft in height. As most residential foundations are well under this form height, the standard revision was a significant benefit to the cost of forming foundation walls without such items as certified planks, toe kicks, safety railing, fall arrest harnesses and other such safety measures.

What resulted, however, was more than a decade of risk for the foundation contractor where employees were permitted to walk atop unsteady wall forms eight to nine feet above the ground and to place concrete, often under the pressure of an activity that “cannot wait for them to be properly positioned or secured to their structure”.

STD 03-11-002 sets a new bar of sorts for the foundation contractor. Under the provisions of this instruction, any work conducted six feet or more above a lower level must be protected by conventional fall protection or the employer must demonstrate that such fall protection is infeasible or presents a greater hazard. Under the later condition, the contractor is then required to have a fall protection plan in place that includes a documented action plan prepared by a qualified safety director and a safety monitor on the job-site that has the sole responsibility of monitoring the activities of the crew. This latter method of compliance can be found in OSHA Std 1926.502, paragraph (k).

Stepping back to providing a system for the purpose of complying with OSHA Std 1926.501, however, we need to take a look at systems and measures. Conventional fall protection measures include guardrail systems, safety net systems and personal fall arrest systems. These are well documented and available from a variety of sources. We are certain that if you’ve been to World of Concrete in the last five to six years, you’ve seen plenty of options to consider.

However, we also are aware that the foundation forms that you erect on a jobsite are not the most stable structure to guarantee the performance of these systems.

Still, the importance is that this is a federally mandated requirement for compliance. The burden is on you as the employer to provide the protection. What we can and will provide is the network to test your solution and to provide support for your decisions.

Interpreting the requirements and options can be tricky and ultimately remain at the discretion of the OSHA Field Inspector for determination of final compliance. Many CFA members have already been hard at work determining what options they have. Consider some of the following thoughts that are already being tested through local compliance officers:

Scaffolding – perhaps the easiest solution.

“Our guys will be erecting scaffolding set below the heights of 10-ft. These will be fully-planked, with no toeboards or guard rails. We covered this with our local OSHA inspector yesterday and he confirmed acceptability.”

– Mary J. Wilson, Michel Concrete

Waler bracket system

“Up to 10-ft high, we are looking at a proposal to provide a 12” wide waler board on a bracket system. This will minimize the labor cost to install and the complexity of the system. At heights of 10-ft or less, no handrails or guardrails are required and no toe boards to protect workers below are required. We’re now seeking a review at the OSHA District Office to determine if our approach might be acceptable”

– Lance Jordan, Stephens & Smith Construction Company

Both of these companies have researched fall arrest and other barricade or guard rail systems to determine what type of performance they need to meet the requirements and keep the impact to their projects minimal, since in the end the customer will not pay for an increase in the cost of their foundation for worker safety.

What is clear are the aspects of this ruling for application to your scope of work:

  1. Effective on all residential work. This defines residential work as dealing with structures built as a home or dwelling. Also, the construction is for traditional structure built of traditional wood-framed construction and systems to support wood-frame construction. Any other construction system (i.e. an all-concrete house) would be assessed as a commercial structure from the OSHA enforcement perspective.
  2. The employer carries the responsibility for system selection, application and maintenance as well as having a program in place to describe and educate on the purpose and performance of these systems. A professional responsible for the program is required if the employer has determined to make the case that fall protection system would create a greater hazard or are not feasible for a specific project.
  3. Fall protection must be provided at heights of six (6) feet or more.
  4. Falling object protection must be provided at heights of ten (10) feet or more.

The CFA is underway with a ‘Management Moves’ piece to provide you with a baseline program to consider implementing and sharing with your local OSHA field inspector. Once completed, we intend on this being available to you as an active member of the CFA and available for download when necessary from our website.


In August of 2010, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) completed a complete rework of the requirements for cranes and derricks in construction. This work has a mixed impact on the residential concrete industry that is largely based on the equipment each company owns and the purpose that equipment serves.

The federal document comprising the final ruling is available for download and review by logging in to your membership account at and then selecting ‘Articles’. You will find this information under the category of ‘OSHA Regulations’. A pamphlet summarizing the provisions that largely affect the residential concrete industry has also been made available from Cranes & Equipment Corporation at this same location. The documents are lengthy but quite informative.

What follows is a summary of the primary issues that we believe impacts our industry specifically.

CLASSIFICATION OF USE: The first issue to address is that of the use of equipment. The primary crane involved in residential concrete construction is the articulating crane or knuckle-boom truck crane.

These are largely used to deliver form baskets from the equipment yard to the job-site. They normally are used to deliver the baskets into the excavation to facilitate a quicker set of the foundation wall, and then they haul the baskets back out of the excavation once the wall forms have been removed.

If this describes the limited use of your piece of equipment, it can be considered excluded from the scope of this standard under 1926.1400 (c) (i). That section states the following as the point for exclusion:

Articulating/knuckle-boom truck cranes that deliver material to a construction site when used to transfer materials from the truck crane to the ground, without arranging the materials in a particular sequence for hoisting.

However, if your piece of equipment is used in any way to facilitate the positioning of formwork, applying materials to a structure or other use that is different than the basic delivery or removal of construction materials, it cannot be excluded. Under 1926.1400 (c) (iii) (A) the following statement removes your equipment from the exclusion as stated: The articulating/knuckle-boom crane is used to hold, support or stabilize the material to facilitate a construction activity, such as holding material in place while it is attached to the structure:

One example prevalent in our industry for this application would be that of the gang form or big panel form. These are not delivered in baskets but rather are brought to the project site and set in place with the crane, often held there until the workers on the job-site secure them. Under the provisions of this standard, your equipment and operator will need to meet the requirements if you are involved in this type of delivery.

Once you have determined the use of your equipment and the resulting classification for exception or not under these standards, you then need to assess the impact of its classification on your requirements as owner and employer. Should your equipment be subject to the regulations of this updated standard for use as more than material delivery, the next section with significant impact is that of certification.

TRAINING: A significant component of the new Standard deals with training of intended operators. In section 1926.1430, the employer is directed to provide training for critical areas and for each specific piece of equipment such as:

  • Overhead powerlines
  • Signal persons
  • Friction equipment braking
  • Crush/Pinch points
  • Grounding of equipment
  • Site hazards and access

The operator-in-training must be provided sufficient training time to meet the requirements of the Standard for these and other areas and at all times be continuously monitored by a certified operator or an individual that passed written examination and is familiar with the specific piece of equipment. In addition, the program for training employees to become an operator must be reviewed every three years by a nationally recognized accrediting agency.

As an employer, the programs that assure training and verification of acceptable performance for operators-in-training are to have been in place by Nov. 8, 2010 if your equipment is not exempted from this Standard. For those pieces of equipment that are exempt, you have until Nov. 10, 2014 to have programs in place for demonstration of compliance with these training requirements.

CERTIFICATION: Found in section 1926.1427, are the requirements for certifying the operator for use of the equipment. Additionally, in section 1926.1428 are the requirements for certifying any signal person involved in the use of the equipment on a job-site. These two sections require a considerable increase in the education process for these persons. Consider this bullet list highlighting some of the areas that may affect your company the most:

  • The employer must provide the qualification or certification at no cost to the operator or signal person.
  • Employees must be certified by a testing organization that can assure nationally accreditation for written examination, practical examination and facilities, equipment and personnel.
  • Exception: If the capacity of the equipment is 2,000 pounds or less the operating person is not required to be certified.
  • Any signal person must have documentation from a third party qualified evaluator showing that the person meets all Qualification Requirements.Note: This is an individual qualification and not a company-based assessment. Each individual described as a signal person must have this qualification.
  • The employer must make the method of documentation available on every job site the signal person is involved, in whichever form is selected. Such documentation must indicate the type of signaling the person is qualified to provide.
  • Any misuse or demonstration of less than the qualified requirements is noticed, the employer must suspend the signal person from such a role on jobs until retraining and/or requalification takes place.

MAINTENANCE: There are additional requirements in this OSHA Standard for the maintenance of these pieces of equipment. Owners must be able to provide documentation of annual comprehensive inspections of each piece of equipment that are held for a minimum of 12 months or until the next comprehensive inspection. They must also keep an active log of regular maintenance to the equipment on a weekly and monthly basis as well as logging any repairs or excessive maintenance caused by project-related conditions or issues.

This is a brief summary of some of the key features of the new ‘Crane and Derrick OSHA Standard’ that has been put forth. CFA will have a Tech Note available soon that attempts to put even greater clarity to this issue for our members. If you have information stemming from conversations with any authority on this issue that may increase the relevance and the appropriateness of our direction, we welcome your input.

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us