OSHA issues final rule on walking and working surfaces

Over the past five years, VMLIP member employees have suffered more than 500 injuries, and the pool has incurred more than $6 million in claim costs due to falls from ladders or scaffolding, falls from elevations or falls into openings.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule, OSHA’s Final Rule to Update, Align, and Provide Greater Flexibility in its General Industry Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards.

The rule updates the walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards to increase safety for workers. The rule provides employers greater flexibility in choosing fall protection systems from available options that work best for the environment and situation, not based solely on the exposure.

For employers who are performing both construction and general industry activities in the same work area, the updated standard will align both standards to avoid the need to choose which guidelines to follow.

The updated rule requires employers to protect workers from fall hazards along unprotected sides or edges that are at least four feet above a lower level. This can be observed in any number of municipal operations and functional areas, not limited to elevated walkways and runways, wall openings, repair pits, stairways, scaffolds, and more.

Falls from ladders account for 20 percent of all fatal and lost work-day injuries in general industry.

The updated regulations offer solutions for both portable and fixed ladders. Most of the rule will become effective 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register; however, variations in the implementation schedule have been outlined for special circumstances and exposure areas. Virginia Occupational Safety and Health now has the ability to issue fines for OSHA violations, so more than ever it’s economically important to implement these life-saving guidelines.

See the updated regulations here.