OSHA created Subpart D, “Walking-Working Surfaces” in 1971 and has attempted revisions in 1973, 1990, and 2010. After 26 years of trying, spurred largely by the ever-increasing number of fatalities due to falls in both the construction and general industry sectors, OSHA has finalized a significant overhaul of existing Subpart D requirements which apply to all general industry workplaces and will affect an estimated 7 million employers and 112 million employees. The revised rule covers all walking and work surfaces within these workplaces regardless of operations, including floors, aisles, stairs, ladders, platforms, and roofs.
The new requirements should give employers the necessary flexibility to decide which fall protection method or system works best for the specific work assignment. General industry employers can now utilize guardrails and handrails, personal fall protection, designated areas, covers, and safety net systems. OSHA says that these multiple options will help ensure employees receive a level of fall protection that is both effective and necessary.
Equally important for those companies who find that both general industry and construction standards periodically apply (causing considerable confusion), the changes make the construction and general industry standards more consistent by incorporating 1926 construction requirements for safety net systems and scaffolds into the newly revised 1910 general industry standard.
Although most of the new Slip, Trip, and Fall revisions are effective January 17th, OSHA is extending compliance deadlines to certify anchorages, equip fixed ladders with fall protection, and train workers as shown below:
|Subpart D Section||Compliance Deadline|
|§1910.30(a) and (b) – Deadline by which employers must train employees on fall and equipment hazards||May 17, 2017|
|§1910.27(b)(1) – Certification of anchorages||November 20, 2017|
|§1910.28(b)(9)(i)(A) – Deadline by which
employers must equip existing fixed ladders with a cage, well, ladder safety system, or personal fall arrest system
|November 19, 2018|
|§1910.28(b)(9)(i)(B) – Deadline by which
employers must begin equipping new fixed ladders with a ladder safety system or personal fall arrest system
|November 19, 2018|
|§1910.28(b)(9)(i)(D) – Deadline by which all fixed ladders must be equipped with a ladder safety system or personal fall arrest system||November 18, 2036|
This will allow more time for employers to evaluate the changes they need to make, to select and purchase compliant equipment, to replace/upgrade their fall protection systems as part of the normal “business cycle” or “useful life” of equipment (i.e., cage, well, fixed ladder), and to properly train employees.
Need assistance in determining how to comply with the Slip, Trip, and Fall regulation? Contact Compliance Technologies Inc. for more information. See also related fall prevention article at eliminate common falls.