wind energyA Washington University at St. Louis research team supported by Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has created an online inventory of fall protection devices suitable for use in residential construction.

CPWR Executive Director Pete Stafford notes that falls from height remain the most common cause of construction fatalities, and that falls continue to happen at an alarming rate – especially in residential construction.

“After years under special "interim" fall protection guidelines, OSHA is now enforcing the same stringent standards in homebuilding that have long applied in commercial construction” says Stafford.

He adds that many residential construction contractors are still learning about the array of fall protection devices available, some of them quite new.

The Washington University team brought a wealth of experience to the task, having spent years collaborating with framing contractors and frame carpenters in the St. Louis-area to reduce falls. Their efforts included a fall prevention technology lending program that enabled contractors to borrow, field-test and rate various fall prevention devices, from hanging scaffolds to anchorage systems aimed at the challenges of wood-framed construction.

The resulting inventory is a list of more than 150 products made by 23 different manufacturers. Visitors to the website can access the devices by product type (e.g., hole covers, or personal fall arrest systems) or by phase of construction (e.g., setting trusses, or installing siding).

Stafford said the site is obviously meeting an essential need: within two weeks of its unveiling, it drew more than 1,000 unique visitors. He invites contractors to visit the Fall Protection Resource for New Home Construction -- and share it with their peers and colleagues in the industry.