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SAFE PRACTICE Impact of New Walking-Working Surfaces Rules DARREN J. HUNTER & MARIS JAGER, ROONEY, RIPPIE & RATNASWAMY LLP, CHICAGO A


fter years of waiting, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration


(OSHA) finally issued its much an- ticipated walking and working surfaces rule on Nov. 18, 2016. In the preamble to the final rule, OSHA addressed numerous comments and concerns raised by interested parties and industry groups, including AFS, with a focus on the profound impact the rule will have on employers subject to the general in- dustry standards. Interestingly, OSHA tried to reassure industry that compli- ance with the new requirements will not be burdensome, as it believes indus- try is already largely in compliance. OSHA underestimates the impact the rule will have on employers. OSHA overhauled the walking and


working surfaces standards, includ- ing floors, ladders, stairways, runways, dockboards, roofs, scaffolds, and elevated work surfaces and walkways. OSHA also added new requirements on the design, performance, and use of personal fall protection systems under the general industry PPE standards, including performance-based language to provide employers flexibility to select controls they determine to be most effective for the particular work- place situation and operation. Ad- ditionally, OSHA incorporated more recent versions of national consensus standards, noting these consensus standards represent best practices and reflect advancements in technology, methods, and practices developed since the walking and working surfaces standards were adopted in 1971. Notably, one of OSHA’s stated pur- poses was to align its general industry requirements with the construc- tion standards and industry-specific standards, where possible. In particular, OSHA increased consistency between the final rule and its construction standards in an effort to make compli- ance easier for employers who conduct operations in both industry sectors. Te final rule can be broken down


into three categories. First and fore- most, OSHA reorganized, relabeled and revised the subsections under Sub-


part D (Walking-Working Surfaces) of the general industry standards. OSHA emphasized that the rule ap- plies to all general industry workplaces unless specifically excluded, incorpo- rated new requirements, consolidated existing requirements in the interest of clarity and efficiency, and updated certain require- ments to ensure consistency with national consensus standards and with the fall protec- tion standards for the construction industry. Second, OSHA


added section 1910.140 to Subpart I (Per- sonal Protective Equipment). Te new section ad- dresses personal fall protection systems, including personal fall arrest, travel restraint, and positioning systems, and establishes requirements for the design, perfor- mance, use, and inspection of personal fall protection systems and components. Te new section also incorporates


national consensus standards, and is consistent with OSHA’s fall protec- tion rules across various industries. As part of the new section, OSHA created two non-mandatory appen- dices to help employers select, test, use, maintain and inspect personal fall protection equipment to ensure that they meet regulatory requirements. Tird, OSHA added technical lan-


guage to conform the various sections in the general industry standards. As an example, OSHA revised Subpart F (Powered Platforms, Manlifts, and Vehicle-Mounted Work Platforms) to require employees to wear either a per- sonal fall arrest system or a compliant travel restraint system when employees are working from an aerial lift. Te final rule became effective


on Jan. 17. To ensure that employers


Employers have a tremendous


burden to ensure they are


operating in


compliance with the updated requirements.


have sufficient time to implement the required changes, OSHA extended the compliance date for certain provisions that require fall and equipment hazard training, the equipment of new fixed ladders with ladder safety systems or personal fall arrest systems, and certi- fication of anchorages through 2017 and 2018. OSHA also extended the compliance deadline by which all fixed ladders must be equipped with a ladder safety system or personal fall arrest system to Nov. 18, 2036, to gradually phase out the use of cages and wells as a means of fall protection. States and territories with OSHA-approved state plans must adopt comparable


amendments to their standards within six months of the date of publication, unless they demonstrate that such amendments are not necessary. Te updates and revisions in


OSHA’s final rule are comprehensive in scope and substance. Although OSHA states its intent was to simplify the rule and provide employers with greater clarity and consistency in im- plementing the standards, employers have a tremendous burden to ensure they are operating in compliance with the updated requirements. Employers have their work cut out for them.


Darren Hunter is a partner and an experienced OSHA practitioner in the Chicago law firm of Rooney, Rippie & Ratnaswamy LLP. Maris Jager is an associate in the energy and litigation practice groups at Rooney, Rippie & Ratnas- wamy LLP. Tis column does not constitute legal advice or the formation or proposal of an attorney-client relationship to or with any person or entity. Darren can be contacted at darren. hunter@r3law.com or at 312-447-2818. Maris can be contacted at maris.jager@r3law.com or at 312-447-2816.


February 2017 MODERN CASTING | 39

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