OSHA Updates Rules on Preventing Falls

The new year should bring greater protections for workers against the risk of injury or death from falling on the job.

A final rule issued today by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration updates the general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standards specific to slip, trip, and fall hazards. The rule also includes a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standards that establishes employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems.

According to OSHA estimates, the final rule will prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 injuries annually. The rule becomes effective on Jan. 17, 2017, and will affect approximately 112 million workers at seven million worksites.

From now on employers will be able to select the fall protection system that works best for them, choosing from a range of accepted options including personal fall protection systems.

OSHA has permitted the use of personal fall protection systems in construction since 1994 and the final rule adopts similar requirements for general industry. Other changes include allowing employers to use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level; prohibiting the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system; and requiring worker training on personal fall protection systems and fall equipment.

The final rule will appear in today’s Federal Register.

Meanwhile, here’s an unpublished version of the rule.

Post-script: My thanks to Jon Hyman for including this post in his December 2 weekly roundup on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog.

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