Falls from heights and on the same level (a working surface) have consistently been in the top ten OSHA violations for several years, and are among the leading causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. On January 28th, 2017, 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 updated standard 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).
The rule offers greater benefits by providing more 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.
OSHA aligned fall protection requirements for general industry with those for construction as much as possible, which makes it easier for employers who perform both types of activities to be in compliance. The rule affects a wide range of workers, from painters to warehouse workers; and OSHA estimates that these changes will prevent 29 fatalities and 5,842 lost-workday injuries every year.
For more detailed information on the updated standard, click the link to the OSHA Fact Sheet.
Walking and Working Surfaces and Fall Standards will be featured breakout sessions at the upcoming DiVal Safety Summit on June 5-7. Click HERE for complete Summit details!