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OSHA slams state's worker safety standard

Posted On: Feb. 10, 2015 12:00 AM CST

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration last week rejected Arizona's residential fall protection standards, which cover workers in residential construction, saying the standards fall short of equivalent federal standards.

In a notice posted in the Federal Register on Feb. 6, OSHA said Arizona's law, which was passed in 2012 and amended in 2014, was insufficient to protect workers from falls.

“The (Occupational Safety and Health) Act requires that state plans develop and enforce standards that are at least as effective as OSHA's standards,” the notice stated.

For example, while OSHA's current federal construction fall protection standard requires that an employee exposed to a fall hazard at a height of six feet or more be protected by conventional fall protection, in contrast, Arizona's state statute “generally requires very limited, if any, fall protection for employees working between six and 15 feet,” the notice stated.

The ruling also stated that Arizona's and OSHA's requirements for employers to have a site-specific fall protection plan “differ significantly.” For example, while OSHA requires employers to have a written, site-specific fall protection plan, the Arizona state statute allowed employers to have a fall protection plan that covers multiple worksites.

“On the basis of these concerns, OSHA is rejecting Arizona's statute on fall protection in residential construction,” the OSHA notice stated

Accordingly, OSHA said all employers in Arizona must comply with the federal residential fall protection standards, effective Feb. 7.