What Do New OSHA Regulations Mean For Your Business?

A recent amendment to OSHA’s Regulations 29 CFR 1910 Subpart D regarding safety procedures to prevent trip, slip and fall accidents will require stricter safety requirements for most industries. The new rules went into effect January 17 this year, though certain provisions, such as the installation and inspection of certain equipment, will not be required until later. The new regulations are designed to unify existing OSHA regulations and put into place best practices currently used by many businesses.

Slip, trip, and fall accidents can include a lack of traction on a slippery, gritty or icy surface, stumbling over a wire, hose or another object, or falling from one level to another. In 2011, these incidents were the third leading cause of occupational fatalities and the second leading cause of injuries. OSHA estimates the new rules will prevent 29 workplace fatalities and almost 6,000 injuries annually.

The new rules impose safety regulations already required by construction sites, and also provide exemptions for agricultural activities, rolling stock and motor vehicles, and regulations involving combustible dust. The amendments apply to “all walking-working surfaces in general industry... (which) include but are not limited to, floors, ladders, stairways, steps, roofs, ramps, runways, aisles, scaffolds, dockboards, and step bolts.”

Over 112 million workers at 7 million worksites are estimated to be affected. However, many businesses who put safety measures into place to prevent lawsuits and create more efficient or effective workplaces may already be in compliance. Any business where employees work across multiple levels, use fixed or temporary ladders, scaffolding, catwalks or fall arrest systems should ensure they are compliant.

The amendment allows employers to choose the best safety precautions for the situation or activity, such as using guard rails, safety nets, fall arrest systems and other options. However, the use of body belts in fall arrest systems are expressly prohibited. Fixed and temporary ladders must now undergo visual inspection before use, and any damaged ladder must be removed from use. Regulations exclusively affecting temporary ladders are also included, such as the use of slip-resistant rungs and precautions to properly stabilize the ladder. These additions can affect businesses of all sizes in nearly any industry.

More extensive training is also an important change to the current rules. Any worker who is exposed to fall hazards, from power lines to wells to rooftops to loading docks, must be properly trained. Those working with fall protection systems must be property trained in their use, inspection, and maintenance. Certain provisions which require new or altered equipment will not go into effect for a year or more, giving businesses time to make changes, however the facilities must be in compliance by the date specified.

To learn more about the changes, visit the OSHA website for an overview (LINK: https://www.osha.gov/walking-working-surfaces/index.html) or read the full document here (LINK: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&p_id=27572) Worker safety is a high priority at Bopp Busch and we know that our talented team is a large part of what makes our business so successful. We take every step to protect our workers and we will ensure that our facilities are in full compliance with this and all OSHA regulations.