Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Safety Standards for Scaffolds Used in the Construction Industry
• Section: 1
• Title: Section 1 - I. Background

I. Background

Congress amended the Contract Work Hours Standards Act (40 U.S.C. 327 et seq.) in 1969 by adding a new section 107 (40 U.S.C. 333) to provide employees in the construction industry with a safer work environment and to reduce the frequency and severity of construction accidents and injuries. The amendment, commonly known as the Construction Safety Act (CSA), significantly strengthened employee protection by authorizing the promulgation of construction safety and health standards for employees of the building trades and construction industry working on federal and federally-financed or federally-assisted construction projects. Accordingly, the Secretary of Labor issued Safety and Health Regulations for Construction in 29 CFR part 1518 (36 FR 7340, April 17, 1971).

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the OSH Act) (29 U.S.C. 651 et seq.) authorized the Secretary of Labor to adopt established federal standards issued under other statutes, including the CSA, as occupational safety and health standards. Accordingly, the Secretary of Labor adopted the Construction Standards, which had been issued under the CSA, as OSHA standards (36 FR 10466, May 29, 1971). The Safety and Health Regulations for Construction were subsequently redesignated as 29 CFR part 1926 (36 FR 25232, December 30, 1971). Standards addressing scaffolds, 1926.451 and 1926.452, were adopted in subpart L of part 1926 as OSHA standards as part of this process.

Various amendments were made to subpart L during the first two years of the OSH Act. The amendments revised scaffold provisions that addressed planking grades, wood pole scaffold construction, overhead protection, bracket scaffold loading, and plank spans. Also, substantive provisions concerning pump jack scaffolds, height of catch platforms, and guardrails were added (37 FR 25712, December 2, 1972).

Based on concerns regarding the effectiveness of the existing scaffold standards, OSHA began a complete review of subpart L in 1977. The Agency consulted the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) several times regarding draft revisions to subpart L. The transcripts of these meetings are part of the public record for this rulemaking (Ex. 3-4). OSHA addresses specific recommendations from the ACCSH, as well as those submitted by other rulemaking participants, in the Summary and Explanation section, below.

On November 25, 1986, OSHA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on scaffolds used in construction (51 FR 42680). The proposal set a period, ending February 23, 1987, during which interested parties could submit written comments or request a hearing. The Agency twice granted requests for more time to submit comments and hearing requests. OSHA first extended the comment and hearing request period to June 1, 1987 (52 FR 5790, February 26, 1987) and then extended that period to August 14, 1987 (52 FR 20616, June 2, 1987). OSHA received 602 comments on the proposal, along with several hearing requests.

On January 26, 1988, OSHA announced that it would convene an informal public hearing on March 22, 1988 to elicit additional information on specific issues related to scaffolds, fall protection and stairways and ladders (53 FR 2048). The informal public hearing was held on March 22-23, 1988, with Administrative Law Judge Joel Williams presiding. At the close of the hearing, Judge Williams set a period, ending May 9, 1988, for the submission of additional comments and information. OSHA received 31 submissions, including testimony and documentary evidence, in response to the hearing notice. On August 11, 1988, Judge Williams certified the rulemaking record, including the hearing transcript and all written submissions to the docket, thereby closing the record for this proceeding.

In 1988, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), an organization which sets voluntary consensus standards, approved a revision of ANSI A10.8-1977, Scaffolding, updating its safety requirements for the use of scaffolds in construction and demolition operations. Section 6(b)(8) of the OSH Act requires that when an OSHA standard differs substantially from an existing national consensus standard, the Secretary must publish "a statement of the reasons why the rule as adopted will better effectuate the purposes of the Act than the national consensus standard." In compliance with that requirement, OSHA has reviewed the requirements of this final rule with reference to the corresponding provisions of ANSI A10.8-1988. The Agency discusses the relationship between the provisions of subpart L and corresponding provisions of ANSI A10.8-1988 in the Summary and Explanation, below.

On March 29, 1993, OSHA reopened the rulemaking record for subpart L (58 FR 16509) to obtain additional comments and information regarding fall protection and safe means of access for employees erecting and dismantling scaffolds; the use of crossbraces in scaffold systems; and the use of repair bracket scaffolds. The comment period was s