OSHA’s Fall Protection Changes
A PowerPak Power-Minute Article
Each and every year, OSHA releases new or modified safety standards.
As a business, it is crucial that you stay up on these changes. Not only to remain compliant but also to ensure your employees are safe.
This year, the newest OSHA rule will affect nearly 7 million establishments.
According to forconstructionpros.com, these seven million businesses employ 112 million workers.
So in other words, pay close attention and read on!
Prominent Changes to OSHA’s Fall Protection Regulations
Here is a quick overview of the changes OSHA has made for 2017 and 2018.
1) Stairways, Ladders, and Guardrails
We’ve already discussed the importance of ladder safety in last weeks’ article.
However, just a refresher, ladder falls account for 20% of all general industry fatalities and injuries.
Now, the new general industry regulations for guardrails, ladders, and stairways align with those in construction.
- Guardrails must be supplied for work at 42 inches or higher
- Fixed ladders, over 24 feet, now require fall arrest systems.
- Employers can no longer use chains to close access openings
2) Fall Protection Systems & Walking/Working Surfaces
We already know that fall protection is the top OSHA violation.
Now, the agency has updated a new rule.
To simplify things, under the new rule, employers have increased flexibility when it comes to choosing the fall protection systems that are most suitable for their staff.
Along with some other changes is workers must receive training on fall hazards, as well as personal fall protection systems.
3) Changes in Roof Work
Up to this point, OSHA had stated there was no safe distance when working on an unprotected roof edge.
Now, under the newest rule, if the distance is less than six feet from the edge a conventional fall protection system is required.
- Guardrail systems
- Personal fall arrest systems, and
- Safety nets
4) Employee Traning
If you have an employee that uses or will be using a fall protection system or performs high-hazard work, he or she must be trained about the dangers of falls, as well as how to properly use fall protection systems.
The deadline for implementing this rule was last month (May 17th).
Use the following free fall protection resources to ensure your staff is caught up in training and that safety meetings are effective:
- your staff is caught up in fall protection training
- that safety meetings are productive and effective
- that your safety plan is understood by staff
- and more
There is also a resource included in the bundle for the next OSHA implemented change:
5) Workplace Assessments
The new OSHA rule emphasizes the (now mandatory) importance of workplace assessments.
Before any employee can perform their job they must conduct fall hazard assessments.
Each piece of equipment must be identified, tested, certified and maintained properly.
Furthermore, inspection is also mandatory for rope descent systems that use anchorages.
Remember: all assessments must be documented. So take advantage of these free forms.
6) General & Construction Industry Alignment
The new walking-working surface regulation aims to provide consistency between the construction industry and other general industry standards.
Specifically, this consists of the following:
- Being able to choose the fall protection system that best fits your employers task
- Fall protection plans for unprotected roof work
- Requirements for scaffolds, safety net systems, and rope descent systems.
Given the numerous height-related injuries and fatalities that occur in the construction industry, OSHA is making a concerted effort to update its guidelines. While it can be annoying to keep your employees trained and up-to-date with changes in regulations, keep in mind that these requirements are in place to keep them safe.