OSHA Finally Issues Walking-Working Surfaces Rule

On Nov. 17, OSHA issued a final rule revising
and updating its general industry walking-working surfaces standards specific
to slip, trip and fall hazards. The final rule includes revised and new
provisions addressing fixed ladders, rope descent systems and fall protection

The rule also establishes
requirements on the design, performance and use of personal fall protection
systems in general industry. In addition, employers must now train employees on
identifying and minimizing fall hazards, using fall protection systems, and
maintaining, inspecting and storing fall protection equipment.

The final rule allows employers to
select the fall protection system that works best for their environment instead
of requiring the use of guardrail systems, which the current rule mandates.

Employers now can choose from a
range of accepted options, including personal fall arrest, safety new system,
ladder safety systems, travel restraint and work position systems.

OSHA has permitted the use of
personal fall protection systems in construction since 1994, and the final rule
adopts similar requirements for general industry.

The final rule codifies a 1991 OSHA
memorandum that permits employers to use rope descent systems (RDS) and adds a
300-foot height limit for their use. It also requires building owners to affirm
in writing that permanent building anchorages used for RDS have been tested,
certified and maintained as capable of supporting 5,000 pounds for each worker

The final rule also requires that
ladders be capable of supporting their maximum intended load and that mobile
ladder stands and platforms be capable of supporting four times their maximum
intended load.

Moreover, each ladder must be
inspected before initial use in a work shift to identify defects that could
cause injury.

For fixed ladders that extend more
than 24 feet, the rule phases in ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems
and phases out the use of cages or wells. For portal ladders, employers must
ensure that rungs and steps are slip resistant; portable ladders used on
slippery surfaces are secured and stabilized; portable ladders are not moved,
shifted or extended while a worker is on them; top steps and caps of
stepladders are not used as steps; ladders are not fastened together to provide
added length unless designed for such use; and ladders are not placed on boxes,
barrels or other unstable bases to obtain added height.

OSHA drew from requirements in the
national consensus standards in crafting the new rule, including ANSI/ASSE A1264.1–2007,
Safety Requirements for Workplace Walking/Working Surfaces and Their Access;
Workplace, Floor, Wall and Roof Openings; Stairs and Guardrail Systems;
ANSI/ASSE Z359.1–2007, Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems,
Subsystems and Components; and ANSI/IWCA I–14.1–2001, Window Cleaning Safety

OSHA anticipates that the changes
provided in the final rule will prevent 29 fatalities and 5,842 lost-workday
injuries annually.


The final rule becomes effective on
Jan. 17, 2017. Some requirements in the new rule have compliance dates after
the effective date including:

  • Ensuring exposed workers are
        trained on fall hazards and the use of fall protection equipment (6
  • 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).
  • 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).

Article source: http://bit.ly/2gbtXOq

Converge HR Solutions is your “go to” HR consulting firm that
provides a complete offering of human capital managed services. Throughout the
employee experience there are numerous topics when it comes to the services we
can assist your company with. Being in compliance will prevent any negative
consequences from coming your way and we are here to remind you of all updates
and regulations. Visit our website
or call us for more information of 610-296-8550.


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