Complying with OSHA’s Steel Erection Policy

Published May 9, 2014 by Whirlwind Team

osha safetyOSHA implemented the Steel Erection Final Rule in January 2002 to cover all employees engaged in steel erection activities. This includes those whose primary job is involved in steel erection such as bracing, connecting, and stabilizing steel construction components as well as an ancillary list of those who periodically integrate into steel erection activities, such as those performing sealing and caulking.

Key Provisions

The steel erection policy is primarily concerned with site layout, component movement and stability, and systems engineering and safety. (It is, after all, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.)

Site Layout

Site layout is concerned with providing adequate area for component layout as well as the right number of access roads. The available area and roads will be determined by the site location so you must adapt your schedules accordingly. While there may be plenty of room at a rural industrial site, erecting a new steel building between existing buildings in the middle of a city block will require a little more finesse.

Moving Components

OSHA’s policy requires additional crane safety when working with steel which requires worker exclusion zones for overhead loads. Thorough planning and work practice enforcement must be performed in order to allow for changing crane loading areas as construction proceeds.
The policy also contains a requirement for proper procedures for multiple lifts aka Christmas-treeing.

Stability Requirements

OSHA requires at least (and no fewer than) 4 anchor bolts per column. You must provide written notification of proper concrete curing in the footings, piers, and walls for the columns. If anchor bolts are modified or repaired in the field, written notification of adequate work is also required.

Safe procedure must state that where beams connect to columns you must have 2 bolts per connection before you can release the hoist line. For open web steel joists you must specify:

  • Bridging and attachment methods
  • Erection bridging terminus point anchorage
  • Load placement methods on steel joists
  • Deck bundle hoisting practices

Specific to engineered metal buildings, OSHA says you must have in place requirements and practices to minimize collapse risk, especially since the majority of all steel erection in the U.S. is accounted for by these structures.

Safety – Falls and Falling Objects

You must have in place practices to address the hazard of falling objects apart from those being hoisted. Provide work practices and safe work areas that minimize the chance a tool or part plummets from an upper level.

You must also mitigate the risk of a person falling, either tripping or slipping at ground level or falling from up high. OSHA has some specifications to follow in this regard:

  • Above 30 feet or 2 stories all workers must have fall protection. This includes connectors and deckers.
  • From 15 to 30 feet (2 stories) fall protection must be provided for all workers except deckers in a controlled decking zone & Connectors who must tie off all equipment.

All equipment must be tied off or safety nets must be used. All workers must be trained by a qualified person regarding fall protection and for special high risk activity.

These responsibilities fall under the domain of the controlling contractor. If that is you, be sure to provide all written notifications as required, maintain overhead protection, and maintain or remove unused fall protective equipment.

Steel is the major construction material of choice. Without these precautions you open your jobsite up to an increased possibility of injury or death as well as a probably fine from OSHA for non-compliance.

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