The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has decided to give companies an extra three months, until Sept. 15, to comply with the agency's new residential construction fall protection directive. That updated regulation, announced last December, previously was due to be complied with starting June 16.

During the phase-in period, companies complying with the old fall protection directive will be issued a hazard alert letter by OSHA telling how to comply with the new standard. Companies that do not comply with the hazard alert letters, and are found to be in violation of the directive during subsequent inspections, will be issued citations. Companies complying with neither standard will now be issued a hazard alert letter and as well as citations.

The directive announced last December rescinds the Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction, Standard 03-00-001. The directive, implemented in 1995, allowed builders engaged in certain residential construction activities to use specified alternative methods of fall protection rather than the conventional fall protection standards. The new standard requires builders to comply with 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1926.501(b)(13), which requires conventional fall protection standards for workers engaged in residential construction over six feet above the ground. The federal code does allow for alternative forms of fall protection, but only when conventional protections are not feasible.

Homebuilders' groups generally favored the rule, while roofing contractors disliked the change.