New OSHA Rule Updates General Industry Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards

General industry employers now have a new OSHA rule to follow regarding walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards.  This rule covers all general industry employers which are employers that are not in agriculture, construction or maritime. The rule updates standards and adds training and inspection requirements to slip, trip and fall hazards as well as adding a new section for personal protection standards requiring employers to use specific personal fall protection systems. Employers will be required to protect workers from fall hazards that are at least 4 feet above a lower level and sets requirements for fall protection as well as ladder safety.  Employers will be benefited under this rule by having a choice of a range of specific fall protection options. The effective date for the rule generally goes into effect 60 days after it was published in the Federal Register (which is 1/17/17) with additional provisions becoming effective as follows:

  • Ensuring exposed workers are trained on fall hazards (5/19/17),
  • Ensuring workers who use equipment covered by the final rule are trained (5/19/17),
  • Inspecting and certifying permanent anchorages for rope descent systems (11/18/17),
  • 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 (11/18/18),
  • 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 (11/18/18), and
  • Replacing cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet (11/18/36).