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Final Rule Updates Standards Addressing Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazards and Fall Protection

Monday, November 28, 2016

A final rule issued by OSHA on November 18th updates its general industry walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards. Specifically, the rule updates standards regarding slip, trip, and fall hazards (subpart D), and adds requirements for personal fall protection systems (subpart I).

The new rule, which becomes effective January 17, 2017, 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 most significant update is enabling employers to choose the fall protection system that works best, selecting from a range of accepted options including personal fall protection systems

The final rule effects general industry, not construction standards. It does, however, improve consistency between the general industry and construction standards, making it easier for employers who conduct operations in both areas.

Timeline (From OSHA’s website)

While most of the rule will become effective January 17, 2017, some provisions will have delayed effective dates, including:

  • Ensuring exposed workers are trained on fall hazards (6 months),
  • Ensuring workers who use equipment covered by the final rule are trained (6 months),
  • Inspecting and certifying permanent anchorages for rope descent systems (1 year),
  • Installing 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 (2 years),
  • Ensuring 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 (2 years), and
  • Replacing cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet (20 years).

For more information, read the rule in the Federal Register. Additionally, OSHA has published a Fact Sheet about the new rule.

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