Construction Depot Newsletter

Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

March 12, 2012

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Scaffold safety: Is fall protection required during erecting and dismantling work?

The answer would be an easy "yes" if those doing the work were more than 10 feet above a lower level and if fall protection was feasible in all erecting and dismantling operations. But it's not; in some cases, the nature of erecting and dismantling work makes fall protection infeasible.

More often than not, however, fall protection – in the form of a fall-arrest or fall-restraint system – is feasible if there is a building next to the scaffold. The fall-protection industry has come a long way in producing systems with easily installed anchors that will restrain or arrest a fall. A simple search of the Web provides hundreds of different anchors that are compatible with most fall-protection systems.

So who decides what's feasible and what's not during erecting and dismantling work? That decision is the responsibility of the competent person who, under section 1926.451(g)(2) of Oregon OSHA's scaffolding rules, must determine "the feasibility and safety of providing fall protection for employees erecting or dismantling supported scaffolds." If the competent person determines that fall protection is feasible, then the fall protection requirements in section 1926.451(g)(1), apply: "Each employee on a scaffold more than 10 feet above a lower level shall be protected from falling to that lower level."

The interplay between 1926.451(g)(1) and 1926.451(g)(2) was also the subject of a recent appellate court decision in which an Oregon Administrative Law Judge ruled that fall protection is, in fact, required during erecting and dismantling work after a competent person determines that it's feasible.

 

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