OSHA's Final Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards Rule
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OSHA issued a final rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems to better protect workers in general industry from these hazards by updating and clarifying standards and adding training and inspection requirements. The rule applies to all general industry workplaces and covers all walking-working surfaces, which include horizontal and vertical surfaces such as floors, stairs, roofs, ladders, ramps, scaffolds, elevated walkways, and use of fall protection systems.
Benefits to Employers
The rule benefits employers by providing greater flexibility in choosing a fall protection system. For example, it eliminates the existing mandate to use guardrails as a primary fall protection method and allows employers to choose from accepted fall protection systems they believe will work best in a particular situation - an approach that has been successful in the construction industry since 1994. In addition, employers will be able to use non-conventional fall protection in certain situations, such as designated areas on low-slope roofs.
As much as possible, OSHA aligned fall protection requirements for general industry with those for construction, easing compliance for employers who perform both types of activities. For example, the final rule replaces the outdated general industry scaffold standards with a requirement that employers comply with OSHA's construction scaffold standards.
The rule applies to all general industry workplaces and covers all walking-working surfaces, which include horizontal and vertical surfaces such as floors, stairs, roofs, ladders, ramps, scaffolds, elevated walkways, and use of fall protection systems.
The final rule covers a wide variety of general industry firms including building management services, utilities, warehousing, retail, window cleaning, chimney sweeping, and outdoor advertising.
It does not change construction or agricultural standards.
Falls from heights and on the same level (a working surface) are among the leading causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. OSHA has issued a final rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems to better protect workers in general industry from these hazards by updating and clarifying standards and adding training and inspection requirements.
The Fall Protection category appeared in 4 of the top 10 OSHA violation in fiscal year 2018. This is the first time Fall Protection-Training Requirements appeared in the top 10.
Number of Violations
|#1: Fall Protection – General Requirements: 1926.501||
|#3: Scaffolds – General Requirements: 1926.451||
|#6: Ladders: 1926.1053||
|#8: Fall Protection – Training Requirements 1926.503||
The new walking-working surfaces rule incorporates advances in technology, industry best practices, and national consensus standards to provide effective and cost-efficient worker protection. Specifically, it updates general industry standards addressing slip, trip, and fall hazards (subpart D), and adds requirements for personal fall protection systems (subpart I).
OSHA estimates that these changes will prevent 29 fatalities and 5,842 lost-workday injuries every year.
By restructuring 1910 Subpart D
|Final 1910 Subpart D||Old 1910 Subpart D|
1910.21: Scope and definitions
1910.22: General requirements
1910.24: Step bolts and manhole steps
1910.27: Scaffold and rope descent systems
1910.28: Duty to have fall protection and falling object protection
1910.29: Fall protection systems and falling object protection – criteria and practices
1910.30: Training Requirements
1910.140: Personal fall protection systems
1910.22: General requirements
1910.23: Guarding floor and wall openings and holes
1910.24: Fixed industrial stairs
1910.25: Portable wood ladders
1910.26: Portable metal ladders
1910.27: Fixed ladders
1910.28: Safety requirements for scaffolding
1910.29: Manually propelled mobile ladder stands and scaffolds (towers)
1910.30: Other working surfaces
|Amendments to Additional Subparts to Reflect Changes made in Subpart D|
1910.66 — Powered Platforms for Building Maintenance
Mandatory Appendix D of 1910.66 — Existing Installations
1910.67 — Vehicle-Mounted Elevating and Rotating Work Platforms
1910.68 — Manlifts
1910.132 — Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) General Requirements
1910.140 (New) — Personal Fall Protection Systems — See details below
1910.178 — Powered Industrial Trucks
1910.179 — Overhead and Gantry Cranes
1910.261 — Pulp, Paper, and Paperboard Mills
1910.262 — Textiles
1910.265 — Sawmills
1910.268 — Telecommunications
1910.269 — Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution
Here are the deadlines:
Most of the rule became effective January 17, 2017, 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, but some provisions have delayed effective dates. Note: all but the last deadline have passed.
- Ensuring exposed workers are trained on fall hazards (May 17, 2017)
- Ensuring workers who use equipment covered by the final rule are trained (May 17, 2017)
- Inspecting and certifying permanent anchorages for rope descent systems (November 20, 2017)
- 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 (November 19, 2018)
- 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 (November 19, 2018)
- Replacing cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet (November 18, 2036)
Downloads & Links from OSHA
Videos and Infographics For Your Team
OSHA Walking Working Surfaces Industry Standards Video
On November 17, 2016, OSHA published its final rule on Walking and Working Surfaces. The final rule covers a wide variety of general industry entities, including building management services, utilities, warehousing, retail, window cleaning, chimney sweeping and outdoor advertising. It does not change construction or agricultural standards. View this 3M video for details.
The New ANSI Z359.16 Standards: Complementing the OSHA Standards on Ladders
In February of 2017, ANSI introduced the new Z359.16 standard for Climbing Ladder Fall Arrest Systems, which sets out requirements that equipment must meet to be compliant, complementing the OSHA standards. View this video by 3M for details.
OSHA Ruling Affects Fixed Ladders, Cages and Wells
In November of 2016, OSHA published its final rule on Walking and Working Surfaces, updating the existing standard. 3M provides tips for complying with final OSHA rules.
Download These 3M Tools for Your Workers
3M Fall Protection Inspection Checklist / Logs
3M Dropped Object Prevention Sample Plan
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