And climbing the ladder for success
By Fred Workley
The Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on May 2, 2003 published a proposed rule to amplify 29 CFR Part 1910 [Docket S-029]. The title was "Walking and Working Surfaces; Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems)." This proposed rule may be finalized later this year or in early 2005. If you did not read the original on May 2, 2003, you should read this article. The rule is going through a final economic-analysis, impact study. The final rule will be published in the Federal Register. You need to be walking tall while following the new regulation and climbing the ladder safely to ensure your success.
This OSHA rule "Walking and Working Surfaces" sets forth general industry requirements for employers to protect employees from slips, trips, and falls that may cause serious or fatal injuries. The personal protective equipment (PPE) section, contains general requirements covering the use and maintenance of PPE, as well as specific provisions on the use, design, and performance requirements for various types of PPE such as eye, face, head, and respiratory protection.
The proposed rule updates many requirements in the existing standards. For example, the proposal has added provisions allowing employers to use alternative means to protect employees from fall hazards (e.g., designated areas, personal fall protection equipment, safety nets) when guardrails and physical barriers are not feasible.
The proposal includes design and performance criteria for several types of personal fall protection systems, including lifelines, lanyards, body belts and harnesses, and work positioning device systems.
Other OSHA standards covering specific types of workplaces and equipment in general industry currently include provisions that require employers to provide personal fall protection systems, powered platforms for building maintenance, and vehicle-mounted elevated and rotating work platforms.
Rolling stock and self-propelled, motorized mobile equipment are of special concern. Employee exposure to these types of surfaces is usually brief and sporadic, such as performing periodic maintenance. There is concern that these surfaces don't contain anchorage points for fall protection equipment.
Scaffolds and controlled descent devices (CDDs) most commonly used are mobile manually propelled scaffolds and boatswains' chair.
Employers who use CDDs to perform building cleaning, inspection, and maintenance must do so in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, warnings, and design limitations. In addition, OSHA said it expected employers using CDDs to implement eight specific safety provisions covering the following areas: employee training, inspection of equipment, proper rigging, separate fall arrest systems, installation of lines, rescue, prevention of rope damage, and stabilization with fall protection.
Surface conditions and clearances
Surfaces shall be designed, constructed, and maintained free of recognized hazards that can result in death or serious injury to employees.
The employer shall ensure through regular and periodic inspection and maintenance that walking and working surfaces are in safe condition. And then ensure that all hazardous conditions which are discovered are corrected, repaired, or temporarily guarded to prevent employee use. Repairs shall be made in a manner that will restore the walking and working surface to a safe condition for employee use.
Only qualified persons shall be permitted to inspect, maintain, or repair walking and working surfaces except for the incidental cleanup of nontoxic materials.
Employers shall ensure that all employees who use ladders with a working height of 6 feet or more receive the necessary training, such as how to inspect and use ladders properly.
Ladders shall be used only for the purposes for which they were designed.