OSHA Fall Protection Changes

Final Rule Goes Into Effect January 17, 2017

Did you know that OSHA’s new fall protection standards went into effect this week? Here’s a summary of the changes:

Fall Protection Requirement

OSHA has clarified the requirements for fall protection–distance was not stated in previous documentation. Under the new rule, if the distance is less than 6 feet from the leading edge, conventional fall protection systems are required. This includes guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, and safety nets. If the distance is between 6 and 15 feet from the leading edge, a designated area for temporary work is required with a warning line placed at 6 feet.

Stairways & Guardrails

Industry regulations for ladders and stairs now match those in the construction industry–Employers must provide guardrails for all work at a height of 42 inches or higher. Employers can no longer use chains to close access openings and no alternative options for parapets (a barrier that serves as an extension of the wall of a terrace, walkway, or balcony) are allowed. Click here for a comprehensive list of our permanent guardrail solutions.

General Industry + Construction Industry

The new walking-working surface regulation provides more consistency between general industry standards and construction industry standards. These consist of the following:

  • The ability to choose the fall protection systems that work best for your employees.
  • The criteria and practice requirements for guardrail systems.
  • Requirements for scaffolds.
  • Fall protection plans for unprotected sides and edges when performing roof work.
  • Requirements for safety net systems.
  • Requirements for rope descent systems.

Further reading:
OSHA’s Final Rule
OSHA’s Press Release