OSHA Finalizes New Walking-Working Surfaces Rule

The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule that updates its 44-year- old general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standard, created to better protect workers from slip, trip and fall hazards.

According to OSHA, the rule aligns the fall protection requirements for general industry with those for construction that will make compliance easier for those companies who perform both types of activities. It should be noted that this new general industry rule does not change construction standard.

One significant change to the general industry rule states that when an employer can demonstrate that using a guardrail, safety net or personal fall protection system on a residential roof is not feasible or creates a greater hazard, it must develop and implement a fall protection plan that meets the requirements 29 CFR 1926.502(k) and training that meets the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.503—the same approach that has been used in the construction industry.

Additionally, all inspections, investigations or assessments of a job prior to the actual start of work, or after all the work has been completed, is exempt from the standard. (NAHB urged OSHA to make this change a few years ago.)

The rule also allows employers to select the fall protection system that works best for them, choosing from a range of accepted options.

This article is a post on NAHB’s NAHB Now blog.