OSHA is giving more flexibility to the employer when it comes to fall protection.
“OSHA believes advances in technology and greater flexibility will reduce worker deaths and injuries from falls,” – David Michaels, OSHA administrator
The Choice of the Employers
OSHA has given employers a choice when it comes to slip, trip and fall hazards. The latest provisions for general industry includes new standards around the use of Personal Protective Equipment. Employers are no longer required to use guardrails as a primary fall protection method and can now decide to use other approved fall protection systems that might better fit a particular job site better. This is nothing new for those in the construction industry as this has been the standard for decades but now other industries such as warehouse workers or those in oil & gas will be given more flexibility when it comes to fall protection.
Some of the OSHA approved fall protection systems are as follows:
- Guardrail System
- Safety Net System
- Personal Fall Arrest System
- Positioning System
- Travel Restraint System
- Ladder Safety System
Rope Descent Systems
For employers who use rope descent systems such as high rise window washing platforms, there will be some code changes as well. The ruling will require that building owners confirm, in writing, that their rope descent systems are secured by permanent building anchorages, that they have been maintained, and tested to be capable of holding 5,000 lbs. for each worker attached. Additionally, it adds a 300-ft. height limit for the use of RD systems.
While most of the rule will be effective by mid-January 2017, some of the provisions of this rule will have delayed effective dates.
First 6 Months
- Ensuring exposed workers are trained on fall hazards (6 months),
- Ensuring workers who use equipment covered by the final rule are trained (6 months),
First Two Years
- 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)
Next 20 Years
- 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).