“It’s almost impossible to do what they want in every situation and in some situations we’re going to be spending a whole lot more money and guys are not going to be any safer for it,” argued Bob Behlman, of Chesterfield-based Behlman Builders Inc.
The homebuilders also are upset about what they view as draconian penalties for violating the rules, up to $7,000 per worker on the job for a violation regarded as serious.
Their complaints are drawing attention in Congress, which has been examining regulations from the administration of President Barack Obama with an eagle eye. Intervention by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., prompted the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to temporarily ease up on enforcement of the new rules across the country and offer more cooperation in complying.
“It just didn’t pass the common sense test that we should be coming in with really aggressive, overbearing kind of regulations on this particular industry that is on the ropes right now,” McCaskill said.
Some features in new federal fall-protection rules for homebuilding and roofing:
• Workers more than 6 feet above the ground must be protected by guardrails, safety nets or other acceptable means.
• Employers who consider rules not feasible or worry that they create greater hazards can devise site-specific protection plans that must meet OSHA approval. (Cost is insufficient grounds to consider a rule not feasible.)
• Workers must be trained in avoiding falls and using protection equipment. Documentation of training must be available.
• Employers have the option of their workers operating from scaffolds, ladders or aerial lifts.
• $7,000 maximum penalty for serious violations with reductions for “good faith efforts.”
Read more: STLToday