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  • OSHA’s Changes Fall Protection Rule

OSHA’s Creates New Fall Protection Rules; First Time Since 1990

This month, August 2016, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking to release their new rule, and with it may come several changes.

OSHA first released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for slips, trips, and fall prevention in 1990, it was determined that this proposed rule was out of date in 2003. In 2010 OSHA again declared a NPRM on slips, falls and then began determining the regulations for the proposed rule in January of 2011.

Fall Protection again was the most frequently cited rule for 2015 proving to be OSHA’s strictest enforced rule. Along with the increase in fine rates, which hasn’t changed since 1990, this fall protection rule has not been updated since 1990 as well.  In an effort to better protect employees from falls, OSHA believes this new rule can prevent up to 20 workplace fatalities and more than 3,500 workplace injuries annually.

OSHA has said that slips, trips, and falls are one of the leading causes of work-related injuries and fatalities. OSHA further stated that right around 15 percent of all accidental deaths are related to slips, trips and falls, which are second only to motor vehicles as a leading cause of workplace fatalities.

Though OSHA has missed a past deadlines for finalized rules, Safety + Health wrote, the slip, trips and fall prevention rule is a number one priority for 2016. The agency has stated its intention to finalize "Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems" before President Obama completes his term.

What you should know about the new OSHA fall protection rule:

  • Details provided for employers concerning the proper use of fall protection equipment. This information will reflect advancements in safety solution technology.
  • OSHA will be decreasing their emphasis on specification-based equipment and increase the significance of performance-based standards for fall protection safety solutions.
  • Conditions and clear standards for fall protection equipment and solutions will be fully explained. This will help guarantee that the criteria for fall protection equipment is consistent with existing marine and construction or contracting standards, as well as other industry standards.
  • The rule will include increased compliance flexibility for employers. Fall protection equipment and solutions are required, but compliant options are available, such as overhead trolley solutions and lifeline systems. OSHA believes this will allow employers to select the best solution for their operations and help avoid slips, trips and falls.
  • Eradicate repetition of specifications and unnecessary language, making requirements more clear and precise.

Remember, OSHA requires all employees working at heights of six feet or greater be protected by guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall protection systems, lifeline systems or a combination of these. Holes in the floor should also be covered or secured.

Employers can refer to the various existing OSHA regulations to address the hazard concerns in their worksites related to walking and/or working surfaces. General industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, refineries and the contractors all have industry standards they must abide by relating to slips, trips and falls. These include standards for ladder usage, walking surfaces, staircases, scaffolding, staging and deck openings and edges, among other areas.

For any questions, concerns or to learn more about what you can do to provide your workplace with the safest possible solutions feel free to give Hemco Industries a call. We’d be more than happy to assist you in your fall protection needs and help you avoid the new increased OSHA penalty fines and to help keep all your workers safe from falls.

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