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January 10th, 2017

OSHA Updates Fall Protection Rules, Effective January 17, 2017

Fall accidents are the number one work hazard in the U.S. including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Slip and fall or trip and fall as well as falls from heights are common causes of fall accidents at work. The injuries from falls at heights, like a roof fall accident, often result in catastrophic injuries including spinal cord injuries and brain trauma. OSHA’s new rule updates will increase protection from these types of hazards. OSHA estimates that the new rule changes will affect over 100 million workers in the U.S. and prevent nearly 30 fatal work accidents and 6,000 work injuries each year.

OSHA’s rule changes include revisions and new provisions which address safety issues like fixed ladders, and fall protection systems. They also add requirements on the design, performance and use of all protection systems. Mostly, the rule changes target employee training and employer inspection requirements. Click here for OSHA’s detailed summary of all the changes. Most of the rule changes are effective on January 17, 2017, but some have delayed effective dates.

The changes apply to different types of industries including warehousing and certain trades like painters. While they do not apply directly to construction or agricultural standards, the changes aim to increase consistency between construction and general industry standards.

Walking-Working Surfaces (Preventing Falls on the Same Level)

Under the updates, employers will be required to inspect walking-working surfaces for hazards. This includes use of personal fall protection systems under sections 1910.132(d); 1910.28(b)(1)(v). Employers will also be required to train workers on fall hazards and proper use of all protection equipment.

Personal Protective Equipment (Preventing Falls from Heights)

Final changes to regulation sections 1910.29 and 1910.140 lay out the criteria for fall protection equipment, specifying strength and performance requirements.

OSHA will be adding a new section to 1910 which will address personal fall protection systems such as personal fall arrest systems and positioning systems. The new section will lay out criteria for the design, performance and inspection of such systems and their components (harnesses, anchorages, lanyards, etc.).

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