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OSHA finishes update of anti-slip and fall rules

January 6, 2017

By Michael Burns, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

On November 18, 2016 the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) issued revised employer requirements for walking surface construction to prevent accidental slips and falls. The rules become effective January 17, 2017 and apply to all general industry classified employers. OSHA uses the term “general industry” to refer to all industries not included in agriculture, construction or maritime. The new rule is under Subpart D of OSHA regulations and is referred to informally as the Walking Working Surfaces section. This revised rule is estimated to apply to over 100 million employees.

The rule requires all covered employers to:

  • Identify and evaluate slip, trip, and fall hazards and provide appropriate personal protective equipment (i.e., personal fall protection) under new requirements in Subpart I, Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Conduct regular and periodic inspections and maintenance of all walking-working surfaces in their workplace.
  • Provide training that enables employees to recognize the hazards of falling and the procedures to be followed to minimize these hazards, including the use of personal fall protection, proper ladder climbing techniques, etc.

Because these rules are so extensive OSHA is extending some compliance dates to give employers time to familiarize themselves with the requirements, evaluate the changes necessary, purchase appropriate equipment to comply with the rules, and to develop and present required training.

Training compliance on fall and equipment hazards has a May 15, 2017 deadline. Training for workers directly exposed to fall hazards and those who use equipment covered in the final rule must be trained by July 17, 2017. Subpart 1910.30(a) and (b).

The rules provide employers with instructions for addressing fixed ladders, rope decent systems, fall protection systems as well as the design, performances and use of fall protection systems. All these fall prevention requirements have training tied to any implementation.

The final rule publication is the culmination of 26 years of development. The first rule development to address slip, trip and fall was started in 1971 and only reached proposal stage in 1973. They were published as proposed again in 1990 and 2010. The November 18, 2017 rules were published as final regulations.

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