Washington, D.C. — In a policy victory for the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and highway contractors nationally, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) re-affirmed its policy allowing—as a "de minimis" violation—shear connectors or "nelson studs" to be prefabricated on steel beams used in transportation construction as long as the employer has a compliant fall protection program.
The policy was challenged several years ago, which led OSHA to re-examine its position. ARTBA met with the assistant secretary and other OSHA officials on several occasions to advocate the association's view that contractors should be allowed to determine the safest means and methods for this aspect of steel erection, and for the policy to remain in place.
In a November 19 letter to ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke, Jr., wrote: "We have conducted a comprehensive review of this policy. In this review, I have given careful consideration to the points that your organization made, as well as the views of the organizations that requested withdrawal of the policy. I have decided to leave the policy in place. I appreciate your interest in this issue and your continued commitment to a safe and healthful workplace."
By way of background, OSHA's compliance directive states the following regarding prefabricated shear connectors and fall protection:
"If an employer requires that all workers, including those engaged in connecting and in decking (as well as deckers in a CDZ), be protected from falls by conventional fall protection, then the failure to meet the requirements of §1926.754(c)(1) would be considered de minimis and no citation would be issued."
Additional information can be found on the OSHA website here.