Washington DC – On November 17, 2016, OSHA issued a press release for its new Working Surface and Fall Protection regulations. 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 updated its new rules 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 becomes effective on Jan. 17, 2017.
The rule affects a wide range of workers, from painters to warehouse workers. It does not change construction or agricultural standards.
The 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).
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 For example, the final rule replaces the outdated general industry scaffold standards with a requirement that employers comply with OSHA’s construction scaffold standards.
New Residential Roof Fall Protection for General Industry. Why did OSHA add residential roof provision to the final general industry rules? OSHA included this provision in the final rule to increase consistency between the general industry and construction standards, which makes compliance easier for general industry employers who perform both types of activities on residential roofs. Also, requiring employers to develop and implement a fall protection plan ensures that employers take additional action to reduce fall hazards when guardrail, safety net, and personal fall protection systems cannot be used
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