OSHA Issues Walking Work Surfaces Final Rule
On November 17, 2016, OSHA issued a final rule revising the general industry Walking Work Surfaces standards as it applies to slip, trip, and fall hazards. A new section in the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standards establishing employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems has also been added.
"The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "OSHA believes advances in technology and greater flexibility will reduce worker deaths and injuries from falls."
This rule increases consistency between the construction and general industries. The most substantial change to the rule allows employers to select the fall protection system that works best for them. OSHA has permitted the use of personal fall protection systems in construction and the final rule makes similar requirements for general industry.
Additional modifications prohibit using body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system, allow employers to use rope descent systems up to 300’ above a lower level, and require worker training on fall equipment and personal fall protection systems.