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By R. Lee Vail, P.E., Ph.D.

On November 18, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued a final rule “revising and updating its general industry standards on walking-working surfaces to prevent and reduce workplace slips, trips, and falls, as well as other injuries and fatalities associated with walking-working surface hazards.” 81 Fed. Reg. 82494 (Nov. 18, 2016) .  Regulations related to Walking-Working Surfaces are located at 29 C.F.R. 1010 Subpart D. Included in the rule are requirement relating to floors, ladders, stairways, runways, dockboards, roofs, scaffolds, and elevated work surfaces and walkways. The new rule incudes:

  • new design, performance, and use requirements for fall protection system to reflect advances in technology and industry best practices;
  • added flexibility to utilize personal protection systems (e.g., fall arrest, travel restraints, and work positioning systems) in lieu of guardrails;
  • harmonization of general industry and construction system and equipment requirements;
  • incorporation of provisions from recently adopted standards, included but not limited to requirements from Appendix C (Mandatory) of the Powered Platforms for Building Maintenance; and
  • incorporation of requirements from national consensus standards (e.g., Workplace Walking/Working Surfaces and Their Access, ANSI/ASEE A1264.1-2007, Personal Fall Systems, ANSI/ASSE Z359.1-2007, and Window Cleaning, ANSI/IWCA 1-14.1-2001.

This rule generally becomes effective and enforceable on January 17, 2017. Several of the requirements are not effective until a later date.