OSHA has recently released an update to its standard on walking-working surfaces in general industry. The final rule addresses slips, trips and falls (subpart D) in the workplace and establishes employer requirements for the use of personal fall protection systems (subpart I).
The rule incorporates advances in technology, industry best practices, and national consensus standards to provide effective and cost-efficient worker protection.
Falls from heights and on the same level (a working surface) are among the leading causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. OSHA estimates that these changes will prevent 29 fatalities and 5,842 lost-workday injuries every year.
“The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries,” OSHA administrator David Michaels said in a Nov. 17 press release. “OSHA believes advances in technology and greater flexibility will reduce worker deaths and injuries from falls.”
The rule benefits employers by providing greater flexibility in choosing a fall protection system. For example, it eliminates the existing mandate to use guardrails as a primary fall protection method and allows employers to choose from accepted fall protection systems they believe will work best in a particular situation – an approach that has been successful in the construction industry since 1994. In addition, employers will be able to use non-conventional fall protection in certain situations, such as designated areas on low-slope roofs.
Most of the rule became effective on January 17, 2017, but some provisions have delayed effective dates, including:
- Ensuring exposed workers are trained on fall hazards (6 months),
- Ensuring workers who use equipment covered by the final rule are trained (6 months),
- Inspecting and certifying permanent anchorages for rope descent systems (1 year),
- Installing personal fall arrest or ladder safety systems on new fixed ladders over 24 feet and on replacement ladders/ladder sections, including fixed ladders on outdoor advertising structures (2 years),
- Ensuring existing fixed ladders over 24 feet, including those on outdoor advertising structures, are equipped with a cage, well, personal fall arrest system, or ladder safety system (2 years), and
- Replacing cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet (20 years).
Contact us to perform a walking-working surfaces and/or fall protection assessment of your facility to ensure your workers are protected and your business is in compliance with the new requirements.
KSV Group provides comprehensive health, safety and environmental consulting services including regulatory compliance (OSHA, MSHA, DOT, EPA) risk evaluation and management, industrial hygiene, training, management systems, and staffing solutions.