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OSHA’s New Walking-Working Surfaces & Fall Protection Requirements

Falls from heights and on the same level are the second-leading cause of lost work time injuries and deaths in the United States. Earlier this year, OSHA issued a new general industry rule to help decrease the nearly 6,000 injuries and 30 deaths reported annually due to such falls. Standard number 1910.22 pertains to walking-working surfaces, specifically slip, trip, and fall hazards. This new rule (drafted November 2016, effective January 2017) also establishes employer requirements related to the design, performance, and use of fall protection systems. The update increases consistency between the general industry and construction standards.
The final rule applies to all general industry employers and covers a variety of walking-working surfaces including:
• Floors
• Walkways
• Stairways
• Ladders
• Roofs
• Runways
• Scaffolds
• Elevated work surfaces
• Dockboards

The update regarding fall protection systems is the most significant, according to OSHA. This allows employers to choose system that is most effective for them. Based on a variety of acceptable options, including the use of personal fall protection devices. The agency has permitted the use of personal fall protection systems in construction since 1994, and the final rule adopts similar requirements for general industry. Other changes include allowing employers to use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level, prohibiting the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system, and requiring worker training on personal fall protection systems and fall equipment.

“The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels. “OSHA believes advances in technology and greater flexibility will reduce worker deaths and injuries from falls.”

At CED Technologies, we have several workplace safety experts that can analyze workplace-accident scenes and opine OSHA compliance, including the latest updates. If you have a case involving slip, trip and/or falls in the workplace, contact your regional CED office or visit us online at

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