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Subject: INFORMATION: OSHA's Final Rule on Steel Erection Date: March 15, 2002
From: King W. Gee /S/Original Signed by
Program Manager, Infrastructure
Reply to:
Attn of:
To: Resource Center Managers
Division Administrators
Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers

After nearly 10 years of development, on January 18, 2001, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), published its final rule on Safety Standards for Steel Erection, Subpart R of 29 CFR Part 1926; 66 FR 5196; (01/18/01); # 66:5317-5325. This rule was primarily formulated due to safety concerns experienced in building construction, however, it presents potentially significant impacts to highway bridge construction. Essentially the final rule requires that installation of "Shear Studs" or "Nelson Studs" must be field-installed to reduce the tendency for tripping hazards caused by shop-installed shear studs or connectors. The final rule also sets performance-oriented criteria, where possible, to protect employees from additional steel erection related hazards. State transportation departments have expressed concern with having to install shear studs in the field on highway bridge construction projects. Complications include potential increased construction costs, diminished weld quality, increased field construction time and time delays.

At its summer 2001 meeting, the AASHTO Highway Subcommittee on Construction prepared a resolution recommending that structural steel for highway construction be excluded from the requirement to field-install shear studs as addressed in 1926.754 of OSHA's final rule. The AASHTO Standing Committee on Highways adopted the Subcommittees resolution in December 2001 (copy attached).

A careful review of the steel erection standards and follow-up discussions with OSHA by FHWA and others resulted in OSHA offering relief to highway bridge construction activities. The FHWA and OSHA concurred that with 100 percent conventional fall protection for all workers, including those installing connectors and decking above 15 feet (trigger height), the presence of the shop-installed shear connectors on the steel beams would only be considered a de minimus violation of the standard. (De minimis violations are those that have no direct or immediate relationship to safety or health. Citations are not issued for de minimis violations.) As of January 18, 2002, the standard went into effect as was published in the Federal Register .  The OSHA has announced that it will not conduct any general schedule inspections of steel erection sites until after March 18, 2002, other types of inspections (complaint, fatality, etc.) will continue. The FHWA anticipates the OSHA to issue supplemental guidance addressing the de minimus policy for fabricated shear connectors on highway bridge construction projects in the near future. It is highly recommended that you work closely with your State transportation departments to ensure that these and other safety standards are incorporated into the standard specifications and drawings as appropriate. Please advise the States of this final rule and the relief offered when 100 percent conventional fall protection is provided for all workers, including those installing connectors and decking above 15 feet. We also ask that you or your State include observation for proper implementation as a highlight during your construction program management through the next couple seasons. The FHWA is committed to providing a safe work environment on all Federal-aid projects. This exception should not be considered a reduction in safety standards since 100 percent fall protection is generally required for all highway workers working overhead (6 feet and higher). For additional information please contact either Benjamin Tang at 202-366-4592 or benjamin.tang@fhwa.dot.gov or Jim Sorenson at 202-366-1333 or james.sorenson@fhwa.dot.gov.


Updated: 01/24/2018
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000