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OSHA Targets Shear Studs Again
Posted by Alison Trost on July 1, 2010 at 7:59 AM.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has let it be known that it’s “back in the enforcement business,” according to a new report from the Steel Erectors Association of American (SEAA).


According to SEAA: “OSHA targeted the steel erection industry early on, announcing in Directive CPL 02-01-046 (effective September 30, 2009) the unilateral revocation of the long-standing de minimis violation standard relating to fully planked or decked floors or nets, and shop-installed shear connectors set forth in the Final Rule on Safety Standards for Steel Erection (“Final Rule”), 29 C.F.R. 1926.754 (b)(3) and 1926.754(c)(1).”


As originally published in 2001, the rule requires fully planked or decked floor or nets within two stories or 30 ft. (whichever is less) under any erection work performed in multistory structures. It also prohibits employers from using shop-installed shear connectors. “In 2000, [SEAA] obtained written confirmation from OSHA that the Agency considered violation of the decking/netting and use of shop-installed shear connectors to be de minimis – carrying no penalty – so long as employers required use of 100 percent fall arrest protection. In March 2002, OSHA issued a directive formally announcing the de minimis violation policy, to which it had already agreed during the rulemaking process.”


Unfortunately, late last year, and for no apparent reason, OSHA announced it was rescinding the de minimus violation policy. In response, in November of 2009 SEAA filed a lawsuit against OSHA in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. According to SEAA “the directive should be struck down due to OSHA’s unlawful action in ignoring its own statutory procedures that require notice and comment.” As a result of the lawsuit, in April 2010 OSHA cancelled their 2009 directive but still maintains that use of 100 percent fall protection “is not ordinarily a basis for considering a failure to comply.” OSHA also stated, however, that “compliance staff retain their normal discretion to determine, on a case by case basis, that violations are de minimis where there is no direct or immediate relationship to safety or health, and the employer’s use of personal fall protective systems at all times may be a factor in such a determination.”


SEAA believes this directive still is not acceptable and is continuing its lawsuit. To read the full story, please visit

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