CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS
TITLE 8: Chapter 4, Subchapter 7, Article 2,
Sections 3210 and 3388 of the General Industry Safety Orders; and
TITLE 24: Part 2, Section 509.7 of the California Building Code
Guardrails/Fall Protection At Elevated Locations (Non-Construction)
A few examples of these elevated locations that are not buildings or construction related include work from or on large containers in industries such as longshoring, work on transformers, fabricated storage tanks, work on aircraft and various types of mobile equipment, and manufacturing of recreational vehicles and mobile homes. A check of Division citations that are appealed before the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board indicate that Section 3210 citations are frequently appealed. There are precedence setting Decisions After Reconsideration from the Appeals Board which affirm that existing Section 3210 requirements can be used to establish violations for fall hazards in a variety of situations and locations that are non-construction, non-building related.
A Decision After Reconsideration from the Appeals Board with respect to an employee that fell from the top of a water truck tank which had no guardrails or other fall protection provided to the employee during filling operations, affirmed that Section 3210(a) was applicable. It was the consensus opinion of the advisory committee convened to discuss amendments to Section 3210 that the section should be amended to clarify that the section's requirements apply not only to elevated locations of buildings but other elevated locations that are not construction/building related. The proposal, therefore with the exception of the 4 foot trigger height discussed below, is a clarification of what is already being enforced by the Division and provides no new requirements. In fact, the proposal recognizes there are locations where the 30 inch requirement for guardrails on platform/worksite elevated locations is not feasible and the Board is proposing a trigger height of 4 feet for guardrails on elevated locations that are not buildings.
Section 3210. Elevated Locations.
Existing Section 3210 defines when guardrails and toeboards are required on elevated locations such as roof openings, open sides of landings, platforms, runways, etc., that are more than 30 inches above the floor, ground, or other working areas. The existing section also has a number of exceptions to the requirements of the regulation for various elevated locations. An amendment is proposed for the title of this section to add the words "Guardrails at" so that the title will read "Guardrails at Elevated Locations." The amendment is necessary to clearly indicate when the requirements contained in this section are applicable.
Existing subsection (a) is a building standard. Amendments are proposed in subsection (a) to make it clear to the employer that subsection (a) is a building standard and the requirements in the subsection pertain only to elevated work locations of buildings. However, language in the regulation makes the existing regulation applicable to a variety of elevated locations unrelated to building structures. It was the consensus opinion of the advisory committee that Section 3210 should be amended to clarify that subsection (a) pertains only to building structures and a new proposed subsection (b) will contain the guardrail/fall protection requirements for other elevated locations. Therefore, subsection (a) is proposed for amendment to add language that it pertains to "buildings" as defined in the GISO. Language is also proposed to clarify that the regulation pertains to "elevated work locations" where employees are exposed to fall hazards.
The proposed amendments are necessary to clarify for the employer that this subsection pertains only to elevated work locations of buildings. A similar amendment is proposed in Title 24, Part 2, Section 509.7, to clarify that the regulation pertains to "elevated work locations." It is unnecessary to add language proposed in Section 3210(a) that the regulation pertains to "buildings" since Title 24, Part 2, California Building Code, contains only building related regulations.
Existing Section 3210(a) of the GISO contains 15 exceptions to the requirements for guardrails and toeboards at elevated locations. As indicated above, the proposal clarifies that subsection (a) pertains only to buildings. Existing exception No. 7 relates to portable platforms and portable or fixed workstands used in close quarters. Existing exception No. 14 provides an exception for flumes (artificial channels or troughs for transporting water). Exceptions Nos. 7 and 14 are proposed for relocation to new subsection (b) for other elevated locations that are not buildings. The relocation of these subsections is necessary for consistency in the proposal that subsection (a) contains the requirements for buildings and subsection (b) for other elevated locations. Since it is not building related, exception No. 7 of Section 509.7 in Title 24, Part 2, is proposed for repeal to be consistent with proposed amendments to Section 3210 of the GISO.
Existing Section 3210(a), exception No. 11 (proposed as No. 10), provides that on outside plaza, patio, and garden areas, the Division may permit alternate means of protection if the same degree of safety is provided. An amendment is proposed to delete the words "the Division may permit" and new wording proposed indicating the alternate means of protection "are acceptable" if the same degree of safety is provided. The amendment is necessary to provide a more performance oriented standard allowing affected parties to plan for acceptable alternative means of protection without prior Division approval during design, construction or remodeling of these areas. A similar amendment is proposed for exception No. 11 (proposed as No. 10) of Section 509.7 in Title 24, Part 2, to be consistent with the proposed amendments to Section 3210 of the GISO.
Existing Section 3210(a), exception No. 12 (proposed as No. 11), is an exemption from the requirements of subsection (a) for elevated locations used infrequently by employees if the employees using them are protected by approved safety belts and lanyards. However, federal OSHA as well as recent amendments in Article 24 of the Construction Safety Orders prohibits the use of safety belts for fall arrest (free fall) protection effective January 1, 1998. In order to address this, amendments are proposed that will allow employees to be protected by a fall restraint/fall arrest system used in accordance with Article 24 of the Construction Safety Orders.
The proposed amendments are necessary for consistency with federal OSHA and the Construction Safety Orders in Title 8 that will prohibit safety belts for use in fall arrest/free fall situations after January 1, 1998. Safety belts will still be permitted for use as a fall restraint or positioning device. A similar amendment is proposed for exception No. 12 (proposed as No. 11) of Section 509.7 in Title 24, Part 2, to be consistent with the proposed amendments to Section 3210 of the GISO.
New Subsection (b)
Existing subsection (b) will become subsection (c) in the proposal and is discussed further below in this document.
A new subsection (b) is proposed with language similar to that of existing subsection (a) to provide the requirements for guardrails and toeboards when necessary for the unprotected sides of other elevated locations that are not building structures. For consistency with federal OSHA guardrail requirements, the proposed regulation will require that the unprotected sides of elevated locations where an employee is exposed to falls of 4 feet or more to be protected with guardrails and toeboards when necessary.
Proposed subsection (b) will apply to elevated locations such as aircraft, manufacturing of large tanks, manufacturing of recreational vehicles, manufacturing of mobile homes, certain mobile vehicles/equipment, and similar elevated locations other than building structures. Currently, the requirement for guardrails or equivalent fall protection for these types of elevated locations where employees are exposed to potential falls is provided in existing Section 3210(a). Section 3210(a) requires working levels more than 30 inches above the floor, ground, or other working areas where employees are exposed to the hazard of falling to the level below to be protected by guardrails or other equivalent fall protection. Guardrail requirements for building structures at 30 inches is consistent with the California Building Code requirements in Title 24, Part 2.
Proposed subsection (b) with a trigger height of 4 feet for guardrails or equivalent protection will be consistent with federal OSHA's requirements. Additionally, the proposal is necessary to clarify for the employer that certain elevated locations which are not buildings or building structures require guardrails and toeboards where applicable or equivalent protection is to be provided.
Proposed subsection (b) has nine exceptions. Proposed exceptions Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 5 pertain to runways for servicing machinery, loading or storage platforms, and infrequently used elevated locations. These exceptions are applicable to both subsection (a) for buildings and subsection (b) for other elevated locations, and they are included in both proposed subsections. These proposed exceptions are necessary to provide consistency within Section 3210 where the conditions at guarded sides of elevated locations may exist in both building and non-building environments.
Exceptions Nos. 4 and 6 in proposed subsection (b) pertain to portable platforms/workstands and flumes, respectively, and they are purposed for relocation from subsection (a) because they do not pertain to buildings structures. The relocation of these two exceptions is necessary for consistency within proposed Section 3210 that subsection (a) pertains to buildings and subsection (b) to other elevated locations.
Proposed subsection (b), exception No. 7, provides that belt loaders or conveyors used for access/egress to aircraft shall be equipped with at least one handrail. This proposed exception is consistent with federal OSHA interpretations where it has been determined that standard guardrails/handrails on both sides of mobile belt loaders for aircraft are not practical. Proposed exception No. 8 provides an exception for aircraft wheel-wells when the wheel-well design does not permit the use of guardrails or other fall protection equipment. Proposed exceptions Nos. 7 and 8 are necessary to address aircraft operations where guardrails or other equivalent means of fall protection are not feasible because of the aircraft design.
Proposed subsection (b), exception No. 9, states the following:
"On mobile vehicles/equipment, where the design or work processes make guardrails impractical, the use of sufficient steps and attached handholds or structural members which allow the user to have a secure hand grasp shall be permitted. Incidental exposure for short duration on the decks or permanent/stationary platforms of mobile vehicles/equipment shall be excluded from the requirements of subsection (b) where it can be shown that guardrails or handholds are not feasible by the design or work processes."
The proposed exception is necessary to address concerns on mobile vehicles and equipment not designed for guardrails at elevated locations 4 feet and higher which are accessed by employees but where sufficient steps and handholds are provided to mitigate the possibility of slips and or falls. The proposed exception is also necessary to address vehicles/equipment such as truck mounted cranes where employees need to access the decks or permanent/stationary platforms where the design or work process (i.e. swing of the crane's counterweights) prohibit the installation of standard guardrails.
Existing subsection (b), proposed as subsection (c), provides that where guardrails are impracticable due to machinery requirements or work processes, an alternate means of protecting employees from falling, such as nets, shall be used. Language is proposed for subsection (c) to indicate that the option of providing alternate means of protecting employees applies to both subsection (a) for buildings and subsection (b) for other elevated locations. The proposed amendments are necessary for consistency and clarity in the requirements of the regulation.
Section 3388. Safety Belts and Life Lines.
Existing subsection (a) states that safety belts shall be of approved type before being used by employees. Subsection (b) provides strength requirements for life lines which is outdated. Proposed amendments to Section 3210 will reference that fall restraint/fall arrest systems be used in accordance with the requirements in Article 24 of the Construction Safety Orders, Fall Protection. Article 24 of the Construction Safety Orders provides the type and strength of required fall restraint/fall arrest devices. Therefore, Section 3388 is unnecessary and proposed for repeal.
Impact on Housing Costs
The proposal will not significantly affect housing costs.
Impact on Businesses
This proposal will not result in a significant adverse economic impact on businesses, including the ability of California businesses to compete with businesses in other states. The proposal divides the guardrail requirements in existing Section 3210(a) into two subsections, subsection (a) for building related elevated locations and subsection (b) for other elevated locations. Employers should already be providing guardrails and toeboards when necessary or equivalent protection for working levels more than 30 inches above the floor or ground level. The proposal clarifies that the requirements of Section 3210, Elevated Locations, applies to other elevated locations that are not buildings or part of a building structure. As a result of the clarification provided by the proposal, some employers may realize the requirement for guardrails or equivalent protection pertains to their elevated work locations that are not building structures. However, any cost incurred to comply with the proposal (i.e. installation of guardrails, use of fall protection systems) would also be required in the existing regulation.
Proposed Section 3210(b) requires guardrails at the unprotected sides of elevated locations which are not building structures where employees are exposed to falls of more than four feet. Employers with guardrails installed at 30 inches to comply with existing Section 3210(a) would not be required to make any retroactive modifications as Title 8 regulations are minimum standards for health and safety and nothing would prohibit retaining guardrails at heights below four feet.
Cost Impact on Private Persons or Entities
The proposal will not require private persons or entities to incur additional costs in complying with the proposal.
Costs or Savings in Federal Funding to the State
The proposal will not result in costs or savings in federal funding to the state.
Costs or Savings to Local Agencies or School Districts Required to be Reimbursed
No costs to local agencies or school districts are required to be reimbursed. See explanation under "Determination or Mandate."
Other Nondiscretionary Costs or Savings Imposed on Local Agencies
This proposal does not impose nondiscretionary costs or savings on local agencies.
The California Supreme Court has established that a "program" within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution is one which carries out the governmental function of providing services to the public, or which, to implement a state policy, imposes unique requirements on local governments and does not apply generally to all residents and entities in the state. (County of Los Angeles v. State of California (1987) 43 Cal.3d 46.)
These proposed regulations do not require local agencies to carry out the governmental function of providing services to the public. Rather, the regulations require local agencies to take certain steps to ensure the safety and health of their own employees only. Moreover, these proposed regulations do not in any way require local agencies to administer the California Occupational Safety and Health program. (See City of Anaheim v. State of California (1987) 189 Cal.App.3d 1478.)
These proposed regulations do not impose unique requirements on local governments. All employers - state, local and private - will be required to comply with the prescribed standards.