Iron workers will go about their business under new OSHA rules aimed at improving steel erection safety by strengthening work practice and equipment requirements relating to working under loads; hoisting, landing and placing decking; column stability; double connections; landing and placing steel joints; and falls to lower levels.

The final rule protects all workers involved in steel erection activities. It does not cover electric transmission towers, communication towers, broadcast towers, water towers or tanks.

The new rule goes into effect July 17, 2001.

Some key requirements:

  • Controlled decking zone provisions prevent decking mishaps.

  • Deckers in a controlled zone must be protected at heights greater than two stories or 30 feet. Connectors between 15 and 30 feet must wear fall arrest or restraint equipment and be able to be tied off or be provided with another means of fall protection.

  • Fall protection is mandated for all others engaged in steel erection at heights greater than 15 feet.

  • A qualified person must train exposed workers in fall protection, and train exposed workers engaged in special, high risk activities.

  • Proper curing of concrete in footings, piers, etc. for steel columns must be formally certified.

  • Four anchor bolts per column are now mandated, along with other column stability requirements.

  • The controlling site contractor must provide the erector will a safe site layout including pre-planning routes for hoisting loads.

  • Additional crane safety provisions for steel erection are established.

  • New slip-resistance provisions for safer walking/working surfaces are established.

The steel erection rule is the first OSHA safety standard developed under the Negotiated Rulemaking Act of 1990 and the Labor Department’s Negotiated Rulemaking Policy. The rule was developed by members of the Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee, representing employers and employees affected by the standard.