OSHA Issues Final Rule to Update General Industry Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards

By December 1, 2016 No Comments

On November 18, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a final rule updating its general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standards specific to slip, trip, and fall hazards.  The rule adds requirements for personal fall protection systems as well as training and inspection requirements.  The rule does not change construction or agricultural standards.  Where possible, OSHA has aligned fall protection requirements for general industry with those for construction.

The most significant update allows employers to select fall protection systems from a range of accepted options, an approach used in the construction industry since 1994.  Other changes include allowing employers to use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level, prohibiting the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system, and requiring worker training on personal fall protection systems and fall equipment.

The rule becomes effective on January 17, 2017, but some requirements have delayed dates, including:

Ensuring exposed workers and workers who use covered equipment 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 (2 years).

Ensuring existing fixed ladders over 24 feet are equipped with a cage, well, personal fall arrest system, or ladder safety system (2 years).

Replacing cages and wells with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet (20 years).

For more information visit OSHA’s Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Rule Webpage.



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