Final Rule on Fall Protection
To address the importance of this component of PPE, OSHA has issued a final rule updating its general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standards specific to slip, trip and fall hazards. The final rule will increase consistency between the general industry and construction standards. The updated requirements reflect advances in technology. The rule also includes a new section establishing the employer’s requirements for using personal fall protection systems.
The final rule’s update allows employers to choose the fall protection system that works best for them. Another change allows employers to use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level. The rule prohibits the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system. Worker training on personal fall systems and equipment is required.
The effective date for this rule is January 17, 2017.
Some provisions have delayed effective dates: (For further information on those compliance dates, see Section XI of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section in the Federal Register.)
- 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).
Have a fall protection plan in place.
Utilizing fall protection is an important part of the job for an electrician who works in elevated work spaces. Just recently, we published a short article on a Jacksonville worker who fell from 12 feet after receiving an electrical shock. Many other stories are out there that describe the trauma of falling from heights because of lack of restraining equipment.