Don't let accidents just "happen" - Update your walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards

Posted by Mary Hallock on Dec 7, 2016 4:27:52 PM

Written by Mary Hallock, IMEC Technical Specialist and OSHA Authorized Trainer

fall protectionFalls from heights and from the same level happen at workplaces more often than you might think. Injuries from falls are a leading cause of serious workplace injuries and deaths. OSHA has recently updated their walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards for general industry. Make today the day to consider training so your employees are aware of these workplace hazards.

The following is a summary from OSHA's website:

Benefits to Employers

The rule benefits employers by providing greater flexibility in choosing a fall protection system. For example, it eliminates the existing mandate to use guardrails as a primary fall protection method and allows employers to choose from accepted fall protection systems they believe will work best in a particular situation - an approach that has been successful in the construction industry since 1994. In addition, employers will be able to use non-conventional fall protection in certain situations, such as designated areas on low-slope roofs.

As much as possible, OSHA aligned fall protection requirements for general industry with those for construction, easing compliance for employers who perform both types of activities. For example, the final rule replaces the outdated general industry scaffold standards with a requirement that employers comply with OSHA's construction scaffold standards.


• Most of the rule will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, but some provisions have delayed effective dates, including:
• Ensuring exposed workers are trained on fall hazards (6 months),
• Ensuring workers who use equipment covered by the final rule are trained (6 months),
• Inspecting and certifying permanent anchorages for rope descent systems (1 year),
• Installing personal fall arrest or ladder safety systems on new fixed ladders over 24 feet and on replacement ladders/ladder sections, including fixed ladders on outdoor advertising structures (2 years),
• Ensuring existing fixed ladders over 24 feet, including those on outdoor advertising structures, are equipped with a cage, well, personal fall arrest system, or ladder safety system (2 years), and
• Replacing cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet (20 years).

Reference OSHA Website:

To get started with a safety plan review for your organization, contact IMEC at or call 888-806-4632.

Mary Hallock

Written by Mary Hallock

Topics: safety, continuous improvement, employee safety

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