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OSHA Revokes Slip Resistant Language from the Steel Erection Standard

January 20 2006
Safety and Health

On Tuesday, January 18, 2006 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it is revoking a provision of the steel erection standard that addresses the slip resistance of walking surfaces of coated structural steel members.

The provision requires that coated structural steel meet a specified level of slip resistance when measured using ASTM test methods. The technical developments that needed to occur for employers to comply with the provision by its effective date, July 18, 2006, have not occurred. The ability to comply with the slip resistance provision depends upon two technical developments: (1) completed industry protocols for slip testing equipment, and (2) the availability of suitable slip resistant coatings.

Rulemaking comments indicated that the test methods are not likely to be completed by the July effective date because ASTM will not have completed the required validation process. Comments also indicated that ASTM will likely withdraw the test methods altogether because they are brand-specific rather than generic. Lack of completed test methods has delayed the development of suitable slip resistant coatings. In addition, there has not been adequate testing of coatings to determine whether they have sufficient durability in the variety of applications in which they will be used, especially in corrosive environments.

In 2004, OSHA conducted a limited reopening of the rulemaking record, as part of a settlement to resolve legal challenges to the slip resistance provision. The Agency asked for comments on whether suitable and appropriate test methods, and slip-resistant coatings could reasonably be expected to be available by July 2006. In the settlement agreement, the Agency also committed to publishing a notice by January 18, 2006, reaffirming, amending, or revoking the provision.

The steel erection standard is the first OSHA safety standard developed under the Negotiated Rulemaking Act of 1990 and the Department’s Negotiated Rulemaking Policy, which NEA – The Association of Union Constructors was a huge proponent of. The standard addresses the hazards that have been identified as the major causes of injuries and fatalities in the steel erection industry. The slip resistance provision was not intended to be the sole or primary means of protecting workers from fall hazards. Rather, it was intended to complement other requirements in the steel erection standard as part of a collective strategy for reducing these fall-related injuries and fatalities.

Notice of the revocation of the slip resistance provision appears in today’s Federal Register. For a copy of this please contact Wayne Rice, Vice President of Association Services at (703) 524-3336 or email him at wrice@nea-nmapc.org.

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