Fall protection has been a point of interest for industries that deploy their staff to work at height. With safety being a major concern for these industries, it is important to ensure that regular updates and developments are brought in action so as to ensure maximum safety to the workers.
Like every year, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has brought to action a number of developments in this industry. On January 17, 2017, OSHA has set into place the much awaited update to the walking-working surfaces rule which establishes employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems.
Some of the important aspects of this rule are:
1. Selecting Fall Protection System as Per Individual Needs
The best aspect of this rule is that it allows employers to select the fall protection system as per their needs and requirements. It also gives permission to employers to use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above the ground level; prohibition from using body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system; and training the workers to use personal fall protection systems and fall equipment.
2. Fall Protection Flexibility
The new rule eliminates the mandatory rule of using guardrails as the key method of fall protection. It also allows employers the necessary flexibility to establish the best method that will work appropriately in their workplace. Along with this, it allows them to follow unconventional and innovative fall protection practices. This is done to minimize any sort of risk associated with systems that are not feasible or can create a major hazard.
3. Fixed Ladder Requirements
According to the new rule, OSHA states that cages and wells cannot prevent falls from ladders or ensure safety of workers from injury in case a fall occurs. The new rule states that during the phase-in period, it is required by the employers that they equip new ladders and replacement ladders/ladder sections with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems.
4. Inspection of Walking-Working Surfaces
As per this rule, it is mandatory for the employers to scrutinize walking-working surfaces on a regular basis as well as ensure that these are corrected, repaired or guarded against any sort of hazardous conditions.
5. Persona Fall Protection System Requirements
This rule has added on to the mandates that are related to the performance, inspection, use, and maintenance of personal fall protection systems. As in OSHA’s construction standards, this new rule prohibits the use of body belts as part of a fall arrest system.
Apart from these, the changes were also made in rules that govern the use of other fall protection equipment in the country. Whether the law is new or old, the ultimate goal is to ensure workers safety so that they stay safe while delivering their job duty.
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