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OSHA’s New Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards

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Falls from heights and same-level working surfaces are among the leading causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. OSHA’s Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems is estimated to prevent 29 fatalities and 5,842 lost-workday injuries every year.

What’s to like?

The new standards provide greater flexibility in choosing a fall protection system, allowing employers to choose from a variety of accepted fall protection systems they believe will work best in a particular situation. This more adaptable approach has already proven successful in the construction industry. OSHA also aligned fall protection requirements for general industry with those for construction as much as possible, easing compliance for employers who perform both types of activities.

While the majority of the rule has been in effect since January, 2017, some provisions have delayed effective dates, including:

  • Ensuring exposed workers are trained on fall hazards (May 17, 2017)
  • Ensuring workers who use equipment covered by the final rule are trained (May 17, 2017)
  • Inspecting and certifying permanent anchorages for rope descent systems (November 20, 2017)

Deadlines to have on your radar:

  • November 19, 2018 – Installation of personal fall arrest or ladder safety systems on new fixed ladders over 24 feet and on replacement ladders/ladder sections, including fixed ladders on outdoor advertising structures.
  • November 19, 2018 – Ensure existing fixed ladders over 24 feet, including those on outdoor advertising structures, are equipped with a cage, well, personal fall arrest system, or ladder safety system.
  • November 18, 2036 – Replacing cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet.

Visit the OSHA fall protection page for more resources to help protect workers.

Contact SWSMC for more information.

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