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OSHA Construction Standards Changes

By Christine Torres

Construction site signs reminds workers to drive safely.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has made revisions to several construction standards as part of the agency’s Standard Improvement Project. After years of thorough consideration through this project, OSHA’s goal is to increase understanding and compliance and improve employee safety and health. It’s estimated to save employers $6.1 million per year, OSHA said.

Construction Changes

OSHA's revisions to construction rules include some alignments with general industry standards and removal of some outdated information which plan to go into effect July 15. Here are some of the most significant changes for the construction industry and what can be done to improve safety and efficiency:

Reporting Hearing Changes or Loss: OSHA reinforces the requirement that new or aggravated hearing loss that occurs during exposure or event must be considered work-related and reported. Workplace management can take time to re-evaluate their hearing protection and noise exposure program.

Periodic Chest X-Rays: Periodic chest X-Rays are no longer a requirement when workers are exposed to inorganic arsenic, coke oven emissions, and acrylonitrile. However, when periodic X-Rays are taken as part of a requirement concerning other construction standards, OSHA will allow workplaces to store and send them digitally.

Emergency Services on Site: Worksites must have an effective emergency preparedness plan that includes reliable emergency and phone services at the job site. Contractors can use visual cues to direct workers to emergency station locations.

Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs): To eliminate confusion, OSHA is aligning Part 1926 permissible exposure limits with PELs in other OSHA standards. Site managers can look to this information when performing risk assessments.

Hazardous Chemicals: OSHA Part 1926 now follows the same regulations in general industry standard 1910.119 for process safety management.

Lifeline/Lanyard Strength: OSHA is reducing the minimum breaking-strength requirement for lifelines and lanyards from 5,400 pounds to 5,000 pounds.

Sign reminds of safe load limits.

Traffic Control Devices: OSHA now requires compliance with the Department of Transportation and the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for traffic signs and devices, flaggers and barricades.

Load Limit Signs: Single-family home construction no longer will have to post maximum safe-load limits.

OSHA/MSHA Alignment: OSHA’s rules for mobile diesel-powered equipment used underground now align with Mine Safety Health Administration's provisions.

Coke Oven Emissions: OSHA is deleting coke oven emissions from Part 126. According to the agency, any work during operation of coke ovens falls under general industry standards.

Construction Site Safety

For more guidance on ways to improve safety and meet OSHA standards for construction and general industry, download our Best Practice Guide for Construction Safety Managers.