Walking-Working Surfaces Standard Updated by OSHA
Updated: Jun 25, 2019
OSHA is revamping programs yearly to continue improving the safety in the work place. This year OSHA is focusing on the walking-working surfaces standard and has made significant changes for the first time in 45 years, or since they first developed the standard.
This new rule affects swing gates, safety gates, ladder-way gates, drop bars and chains. This includes both horizontal and vertical surfaces, including roofs, floors, ramps, elevated walkways, stairs, ladders and scaffolding. OSHA began phasing in the new rule in January 2017, but the final changes will not be fully implemented for another 18 years.
Generally, changes from OSHA usually cause stress among employers, but these standard changes give employers more flexibility and consistency than the previous standard. OSHA is giving quite some time to allow employers to fully comply with the new standard policies with the final change being 2036.
OSHA has begun enforcing that inspections and certifications of permanent anchorages used in rope descent systems are completed. By 2036, OSHA will require all fall protection using cages and wells on ladders longer than 24 feet to be replaced with personal fall arrest or ladder safety systems.
OVERVIEW OF CHANGES
OSHA called for changes in fall protection, which allow employers to choose either personal fall arrest, travel restraint or work positioning systems, depending on their judgement of which will be most safe. This rule previously had guardrails as a primary device on elevated work surfaces.
Ladder rules have also changed and there is now has a 300-foot high limit for rope descent systems. Employers will also need to certify that permanent anchorage points have been properly maintained, tested and certified. Anchorages must be able to support 5,000 pounds per worker that that is attached.
Finally, OSHA will enforce that all workers in a number of high-risk situations are receiving proper training on fall protection. The training should include taking steps to reduce fall hazards, use of all protection systems and how to inspect, maintain and store those systems.
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