OSHA published a notice in the Feb. 6 Federal Register rejecting Arizona's residential construction fall protection standard. Arizona is one of 27 states and territories that operate their own occupational safety and health programs. State-run programs are required to be at least as effective as federal OSHA standards. The Arizona state legislature recently passed a statute that requires fall protection – specifically a guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest system – for fall hazards at a height of 15 feet or greater. Federal OSHA requires employers to provide fall protection whenever workers are exposed to a fall hazard at a height of six feet or more.
Because Arizona's fall protection statute is not as effective as federal OSHA's, the agency has the authority to assume control of the enforcement standards in the state's construction sector. The Federal Register notice stated that OSHA was deferring this action to allow time for the Arizona legislature to repeal its inadequate fall protection provision.
As a result of OSHA's Federal Register notice, Arizona's Department of Occupational Safety and Health took immediate action and deemed the state's inadequate standards automatically repealed. Arizona is now enforcing OSHA's residential construction fall protection requirements and is offering free training classes for affected employers. OSHA will continue to work with the state and monitor its enforcement of the fall protection standard.