November 17, 2016, the new general industry fall protection rules were issued by OSHA and will go into effect on Jan 17, 2017. This massive industry-wide set of guidelines is mandatory even with delays that should be sewn up by July 2017.
The new rule is an update to the walking-working surfaces standards of the past 45 years known as (29 C.F.R. 1910 SubpartD) as well as the personal protective equipment standards (29 C.F.R. 1910 Subpart I). OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This update is an expensive one with an estimated $305 million to employer’s costs but will save $614.5 million annually. These savings comes from the less number of medical problems and costs and fewer worker fatalities.
This rule has been in the works for a very long time. Since 1973 as a matter of fact. The duration of development involved making sure each industry in the criteria could be analyzed and changes recommended. Changes in technologies in these areas also caused such a delay and it’s now known as RIN:1218-AB80. The new Trump administration might put a damper on the rule but that remains to be seen. Trump being a man who is an expert in construction will be able to see the value or the detriment of this rule and add his opinion to the mix. This could fine tune things to the point that the rule is fair and economical to everyone and meets the high standards to prevent falls and other injuries. Fall protection is essential and the various industries where these falls and injuries occur are diverse. Experts have to look at everything from the surfaces of the work areas on down to the type of shoes the workers are wearing.
The rule will cover such walking-working surfaces as ladders, runways, floors, stairs, roofs, elevated work surfaces, and dock boards. Since new textiles come out, they’ll have to be tested to ensure that they’re safe to work on and if not, what adjustments to equipment need be done. Farming has been exempted from the rule.
OSHA feels that the flexibility of the rule will allow for the leeway for the various industries to handle things on their own. The consensus standards encompass several rules like ANSII-14.1-2001 the Window Cleaning Safety Standard, ANSI A1264. 1-2007 Safety Requirements For Workplace Walking-Working Surfaces and their Access., ASSE Z359.1-2007 the Safety Requirements for Personal Fall arrest Systems, and Subsystems and Components.
Overall, the new rules will allow for already in-use practices for fall protection and safety. It also doesn’t put a major damper on employers as the savings will outweigh the expenditures to make sure the rules are followed. It will be a given that detailed statistics will be gathered from here on out. Insurance companies are going to want to minimize as many injuries as possible and employers will want this too to prevent a leap upwards in premiums. What fines there will be and how much they’ll cost will depend on the courts if and when such events occur. Right now, the public and the workers and employers should be at a point of rested compliance as all the pieces are put together and tested out. The bottom line is, from now on the better safety thanks to falling protection will be a benefit to one and all.
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