OSHA Issues Final Rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards

rachel photo-websiteBy Rachel Morgan, MPH, ASP
EHS Specialist with Palmetto EHS

The update to the Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems Standards is expected to prevent 29 deaths each year and is meant to help employers performing both construction and general industry activities, as it aligns some of the general industry requirements for fall protection with those already in place for construction. Workers will be better protected under the new rule because it incorporates consensus standards, best practices in the industry, as well as advances in technology to update and clarify the standards, as well as add requirements for employee training and inspections. The new rule allows employers more flexibility in their selection of fall protection, it requires that exposed workers be trained on fall hazards, existing fixed ladders (over 24 feet) must be equipped with a cage, well, personal fall arrest system, or ladder safety system, among other requirements. While the effective date of the final rule was January 17, 2017, a few of the requirements have staggered effective dates. Most of the staggered effective dates range from 6 months to two years, however the requirement for replacing cages and wells on all fixed ladders (over 24 feet) that have personal fall arrest systems or ladder safety systems does not become effective for another 20 years. For more information and to see all of the requirements included in the final rule, see https://www.osha.gov/walking-working-surfaces.

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