In 2017, after 46 years, OSHA revises the outdated general industry Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems) standards. The final 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 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. The final rule includes a number of revisions and new requirement – This program will give you an overview the revisions and new requirements in the final rule to include:
- Fall protection flexibility – The final rule allows employers to protect workers from falls by choosing from a range of accepted fall protection systems
- Updated scaffold requirements –The final rule replaces the outdated general industry scaffold standards with the requirement that employers comply with OSHA’s construction scaffold standards;
- Phase-in of ladder safety systems or personal fall arrest systems on fixed ladders –The final rule phases in over 20 years a requirement to equip fixed ladders (that extend over 24 feet) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems and prohibits the use of cages and wells as a means of fall protection after the phase-in deadline
- Phase-out of the “qualified climber” exception in outdoor advertising – The final rule phases out OSHA’s directive allowing qualified climbers in outdoor advertising to climb fixed ladders on billboards without fall protection and phases in the requirement to equip fixed ladders (over 24 feet) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems.
- Rope descent systems (RDS) and certification of anchorages – The final rule codifies OSHA’s memorandum for employers who use RDS to perform elevated work.
- Personal fall protection system performance and use requirements – The final rule, which allows employers to use personal fall protection systems (i.e., personal fall arrest, travel restraint, and positioning systems), adds requirements on the performance, inspection, use, and maintenance of these systems.
- Inspection of walking-working surfaces – The final rule requires that employers inspect walking-working surfaces regularly and as needed and correct, repair, or guard against hazardous conditions; and
- Training – The final rule adds requirements that employers ensure workers who use personal fall protection and work in other specified high hazard situations are trained, and retrained as necessary, about fall and equipment hazards, including fall protection systems.
Slips, Trips and Falls are among the leading causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths whether from heights or on the same level of a walking-working surface. OSHA estimates that, on average, approximately 202,066 serious lost-workday injuries and 345 fatalities occur annually among workers directly affected by the Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems standards.
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