OSHA Issues Final Rule on Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazards
A final rule issued by OSHA updates the agency’s general industry walking-working surfaces standards specific to slip, trip, and fall hazards. The new rule, which goes into effect on Jan. 17, 2017, also establishes employer requirements related to the design, performance, and use of personal fall protection systems under its general industry personal protective equipment standards. Other revised and new provisions included in the final rule address fixed ladders, rope descent systems, fall protection systems and criteria, and training on fall hazards and fall protection systems. The new rule increases consistency between the general industry and construction standards, but does not change construction or agricultural standards.
OSHA’s final rule is intended to better protect workers in general industry from falls from heights and on the same level, which are among the leading causes of work-related injuries and deaths. According to the agency, the rule affects a wide range of workers, from painters to warehouse workers, and will prevent an estimated 29 fatalities and 5,842 lost-workday injuries every year.
“The rule benefits employers by providing greater flexibility in choosing a fall protection system,” OSHA’s website reads. “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.”
The final rule will also allow employers to use non-conventional fall protection, such as designated areas on low-slope roofs, in certain situations.
To learn more, see the Federal Register notice. OSHA’s webpage on the final rule provides further information, including a timeline of all effective dates.