Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration
A final rule updating OSHA general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standards specific to slip, trip and fall hazards includes a new Personal Protective Equipment section establishing employer requirements for fall protection systems.
The rule’s most significant update is allowing employers to select the system that works best for them, choosing from a range of accepted options including personal fall protection devices. 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 increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries,” says Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “OSHA believes advances in technology and greater flexibility will reduce worker deaths and injuries from falls.” The final rule also increases consistency between general and construction industries, he adds, which will help employers and workers involved in both categories.
OSHA estimates the final standard will prevent 29 fatalities and 5,800-plus injuries annually. The rule is effective January 17, 2017, and will cover approximately 112 million workers at seven million sites.