The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued its final revision of the general industry standard on walking and working surfaces, which aims to prevent and reduce workplace slips, trips and falls. OSHA has been working on changes to this 45-year-old regulation since 1990. During that time, OSHA opened and accepted comments several times on changes to the regulation, the last time being in 2010.
The rule makes several changes to the original standard, which was published in 1971, including:
- Providing employers flexibility in choosing appropriate fall protection
- Updating the scaffold requirements to match OSHA construction standards
- Phasing in ladder-safety systems or personal fall-arrest systems on fixed ladders
- Allowing rope-descent systems and certification of anchorages (to 5000 pound)
- Adding requirements for the performance and use of personal fall-protection systems
- Inspecting walking and working surfaces
- Requiring training and retraining about fall and equipment hazards and the use of fall protection systems
OSHA does not expect the changes to have a large impact on employers because companies are already using much of the equipment and many of the systems and practices. OSHA estimates the rule will annually prevent 29 fatalities and 5,842 injuries.
The rule will be effective Jan. 17, 2017, but several provisions have delayed effective dates. , including:
- May 17, 2017 – train employees on fall and equipment hazards
- July 17, 2017 – ensure exposed workers are trained on fall hazards
- July 17, 2017 – ensure workers who use equipment covered in the rule are trained
- Nov. 20, 2017 – inspect and certify permanent anchorages for rope-descent systems
- Nov. 19, 2018 – install personal fall-arrest or ladder-safety systems on new fixed ladders over 24 feet and on replacement ladders or ladder sections, including fixed ladders on outdoor advertising structures
- Nov. 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
- Nov. 18, 2036 – replace cages and wells that are used as fall protection with ladder-safety or personal fall-arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet.
States running a State Plan will have until June 17, 2017, six months from the effective date, to adopt standards that are at least as effective as the federal OSHA rule.
This rule could potentially come under review by the Trump Administration or be subject to the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which gives lawmakers 60 legislative days to overturn a regulation from the administration or previous administration. If lawmakers are not in session for 60 days before adjourning their final session, the clock rests, and the new Congress is given 60 days to act.
The CRA has only been used once to overturn an OSHA standard, which was on ergonomics in 2001.
Members with questions may contact Emily Lyons, IDFA director of regulatory affairs and counsel, at email@example.com.