Enforcement and Inspection

Construction vs. Maintenance: Do You Know Which OSHA Standards Apply?

By: Charles B. Palmer and Miguel A. Manriquez

You send workers up on the flat roof to fix an HVAC unit. Is the work considered “maintenance,” covered under OSHA’s general industry fall protection rules, or “repair,” subject to OSHA’s construction rules? You send workers in to a tank to clean and paint it. Is the work covered under OSHA’s confined space rule for general industry or under the new OSHA confined spaces in construction rule? You may be surprised at the answer.

General industry operations (manufacturing, health care, service, retail, trucking transportation, etc.) are covered under standards contained in 29 CFR 1910, while construction work is governed by 29 CFR 1926. However, the type of work that employees are performing on any given day, not the industry in which they are employed, dictates the applicable standards.

For example, when a manufacturer’s employees are engaged in building an addition onto the employer’s plant, they may be covered by construction standards. Mobile factories, tool yards, and fabrication plants can be covered by the construction standard, provided they are “dedicated exclusively, or nearly so, to performance of the contract or project, and are so located in proximity to the actual construction location that it would be reasonable to include them.” Read more.

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