For years, general industry employers have sought guidance on OSHA's fall protection standard, Subpart D, "Walking-Working Surfaces." The standard doesn't provide very much detail and very little in the way of clear requirements. But that is all about to change. Recently, OSHA took the first step in making a major overhaul of the standard.

The agency plans to require improved worker protection from tripping, slipping and falling hazards on walking and working surfaces such as floors, platforms, portable and fixed ladders, stairs, and ramps. The proposal addresses workplace hazards that are a leading cause of work-related injuries and deaths.

OSHA believes the revisions will make the existing rule clearer, and would prevent 20 workplace fatalities per year, and more than 3,700 injuries per year that are serious enough to result in days away from work.

OSHA will accomplish this by defining terms not now in the standard, address maintenance and repair of walking-working surfaces, consolidating all portable ladder requirements and add requirements for ascending or descending a ladder, provide more options in providing fall protection, and by requiring employee training.

How will it affect you?
The new walking-working surfaces proposed rule provides employers with the fall protection guidance they have been looking for. Several OSHA Letters of Interpretation, OSHA say that the employer may comply with a proposed standard rather than with the standard in effect at the time of the inspection. This can only be done, however, if the employer's action clearly provides equal or greater employee protection.

That's where KellerOnline can help.

Under the Fall Protection topic, you'll find links to the Proposed Rule so that you can read and implement those requirements. The News & Alerts area will keep you up to date on adoption of this, and any other new OSHA regulation.

KellerOnline also provides you with a fall protection policy template to assist you in the creation of a new Fall Protection policy.

For more information, visit the J.J. Keller & Associates Web site at www.jjkeller.com.