With just over two weeks until new requirements for fall hazard protections for residential construction go into effect, OSHA has created a “compliance assistance tool” to help employers prevent fall-related injuries and deaths among their workers.

The PowerPoint presentation, “Residential Fall Protection Program Update,” describes safety methods and explains techniques currently used by employers during various stages of construction. These techniques involve the use of conventional fall protection systems including safety nets, guardrails, and personal fall arrest systems such as body harnesses, lanyards and lifelines. Workers who use these safety systems perform activities such as installing roof sheathing, weatherproofing a roof, and installing walls and subfloors, among others.

Falls are the leading cause of death for workers involved in construction. In December, 2010, OSHA announced a new directive withdrawing a former interim directive that allowed residential builders to bypass fall protection requirements.

As of June 16, 2011, companies will have to protect employees working six feet or more above lower levels with fall protection methods such as guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.

Alternative means of protection are permitted, such as the use of warning lines and safety monitoring systems during performance of roofing work on low-sloped roofs.

If an employer can prove it is infeasible or creates a greater hazard to use required fall protection systems, a qualified person must develop a written site-specific fall protection plan.

“Residential Fall Protection Program Update” and other guidance materials are available on OSHA’sResidential Fall Protection page. Other resources include a fact sheet, and questions and answers about requirements for protecting workers from fall hazards.