By now, you’ve probably heard about OSHA’s revised Walking-Working Surfaces regulations. Many of the articles published on this topic explore the deadlines to convert from ladder cages to ladder safety systems (we recently published an e-book that discusses the new ladder regulations). Make no mistake—the revised fixed ladder requirements are significant, but the new OSHA regulations cover additional ground that will impact employers and property owners nationwide. In this post, we’ll look at the new Walking-Working Surfaces regulations as they relate to the use rope descent systems (RDS) and window washing anchors.
One of the more popular fall protection questions we receive relates to OSHA requirements for safety railing and guardrail systems. Determined inquiring minds can consult OSHA’s revised Walking Working Surfaces ruling for general industry, but this can be a laborious process. In the interest of time, here is OSHA’s official stance on guardrail for general industry applications….
OSHA’s recent updates to its General Industry Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards will impact 112 million workers at 7 million workplaces. According to OSHA estimates, the new Slips, Trips, and Falls regulations will prevent 29 fatalities and 5,842 lost-workday injuries every year. If you are wondering about the timeline for implementing the new standards, we have a new post that may help…..
When folks begin learning about fall safety, they gravitate toward the fall protection systems, best practices, and PPE designed to prevent or arrest falls. All of this is a good start—but learning about the dangers present after a fall is arrested is of equal or greater importance.
When a tied-off worker slips and plunges toward ground level, a properly designed and installed fall arrest system deploys and absorbs the forces associated with the fall, preventing contact with structure below—and/or ground level. In this case, the worker is suspended somewhere between the work surface and ground level. The fall arrest system has done its job, and yet, without a prompt rescue, the same system that arrests a fall can threaten an employee’s life.
On November 18, 2016 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued its final ruling on Walking-Working Surfaces (29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart D) and the general industry Personal Protective Equipment Standards (29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart I). The revised ruling occupies 513 pages in the Federal Record and the new requirements will impact 112.3 million employees at 6.9 million general industry establishments. With many of the provisions of the final ruling scheduled to become effective early next year, many safety professionals are left wondering about the steps their companies need to take to ensure compliance.
Whether you believe the prospect of OSHA penalties encourages employers to create and maintain safe workplaces or not, we can state one fact with certainty—the cost of a fall went up this year.
Thanks to the Bipartisan budget act of 2015, Congress empowered OSHA to raise maximum penalties for the first time since 1990.
The maximum penalty for serious violations increased from $7,000 to $12,471 per violation while the cost of a willful or repeat violation rose from $70,000 to 124,709. In addition to the 78% penalty increase that went into effect this fall, OSHA will now make additional, annual adjustments to keep pace with inflation. So, what does this news mean to you, and what should you do about it?