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Iron workers in America should be safer under a new rule issued recently by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The new rule on steel erection, developed in concert with industry and union groups, is expected to prevent 30 fatalities and 1,142 injuries annually and save employers nearly $40 million a year.
The steel erection rule is the first OSHA safety standard developed under the Negotiated Rulemaking Act of 1990 and the agency’s Negotiated Rulemaking Policy. The rule was developed by members of the Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (SENRAC), representing employers and employees significantly affected by the standard. Every year, an average of 35 iron workers die during steel erection activities, and 2,300 more suffer lost workday injuries, OSHA reports.
The standard enhances protections provided to iron workers by addressing the hazards that have been identified as the major causes of injuries and fatalities in the steel erection industry. These are hazards associated with working under loads; hoisting, landing, and placing decking; column stability; double connections; landing and placing steel joints; and falls to lower levels.
The final rule protects all workers engaged in steel erection activities. It does not cover electric transmission towers, communications towers, broadcast towers, water towers, or tanks. SENRAC included representatives of the International Association of Bridge, Structural & Ornamental Iron Workers, United Steelworkers of America, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, International Union of Operating Engineers, AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, National Erectors Association, the Associated General Contractors of America, and the Associated Builders and Contractors.
SENRAC began negotiations on the revised steel erection standard in June 1994 and presented OSHA with its consensus proposed rule in July 1997. OSHA published a proposed final rule for public comment on Aug. 13, 1998, and held public hearings from Dec. 1-11, 1998. The final rule will become effective July 17, 2001.
These are some key provisions of the revised steel erection standard:
— Site Layout and Construction Sequence
— Site-Specific Erection Plan
— Hoisting and Rigging
— Structural Steel Assembly
— Column Anchorage
— Beams and Columns
— Open Web Steel Joists
— Systems-Engineered Metal Buildings
— Falling Object Protection
— Fall Protection