OSHA’s Final Rule: Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards
One of the top causes of work-related injuries and deaths is falling from heights while on a working surface. These falls result in hundreds of injuries and even fatalities in various industries from construction and agriculture. To better protect workers from the dangers of these types of falls, OSHA issued a final rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems.
The rule is applied to the general industry and does not alter most of the industry’s standards of protection. This includes that of construction or agriculture. The rule integrates best protection practices as well as advances in technology in making sure that workers are effectively and cost-efficiently protected.
Overall, it includes the addition of training and inspection requirements. It allows greater flexibility for employers in implementing their fall protection systems. The hope is that it gives employers freedom to find ways that better fit the needs of their industry. Employers have the option to also use non-conventional fall protection methods in some situations.
OSHA also aligned the general industry standard requirements to that of construction standards. It aims to provide convenient compliance for employers performing both in the construction and general industry.
Other highlights of the rule include added protection for fixed ladders taller than 24 feet.
The final rule took effect in January 2017 with other compliance deadlines set to take place later on this year.
- November 19, 2018 – Personal fall arrest or a ladder safety system on fixed ladders taller than 24 feet must be installed, including replacement ladders/ladder section and fixed ladders on outdoor advertising structures.
- November 19, 2018 – Making sure that existing fixed ladders are equipped with a cage, well, personal fall arrest system and ladder safety system, including ladders on outdoor advertising structure.
- November 18, 2036 – Ladder safety systems, cages and personal fall arrest systems on fixed ladders over 24 feet must be replaced.
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