OSHA Rule on Walking Working Surfaces

Ready or not, the new OSHA rule on walking working surfaces and fall protection for general industry takes effect January 17, 2017.

This update is intended to better align the general industry rules with the construction rules to help employers who do both functions remain compliant and keep workers safe.

  • See the full publication (500+ pages) here.
  • See the specific regulatory text without the background, analysis, and cost basis information (88 pages) here.
  • See OSHA’s fact sheet (3 pages) here.


Some of the interesting highlights are that scaffolds now just reference the construction (29 CFR 1926 Subpart L) rules instead of recreating their own. Also, OSHA added residential roofs to §1910.28, Duty to have fall protection and falling object protection.

What Is the Same as the Construction Rules?

Many of the requirements are the same. For example:

  • Each employee faces the ladder when climbing up or down it
  • Each employee uses at least one hand to grasp the ladder when climbing up and down it
  • No employee carries any object or load that could cause the employee to lose balance and fall while climbing up or down the ladder

However, the changes are there and reach out to other sections.

What Is Different from the Construction Rules?

Section Added

  • 1910.140, Personal fall protection systems

Non-Mandatory Guideline Appendices Added

  • Appendix C to Subpart I of Part 1910, Personal Fall Protection Systems
  • Appendix D to Subpart I of Part 1910, Test Methods and Procedures for Personal Fall Protection Systems

Sections Changed

  • 1910.66, Powered platforms for building maintenance
  • Appendix D to §1910.66, Existing Installations (mandatory)
  • 1910.67 Vehicle, Mounted elevating and rotating work platforms
  • 1910.68, Manlifts
  • 1910.178, Powered industrial trucks
  • 1910.179, Overhead and gantry cranes
  • 1910.261, Pulp, paper, and paperboard mills
  • 1910.262, Textiles
  • 1910.265, Sawmills
  • 1910.268, Telecommunications
  • 1910.269, Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution

On Ladders . . .

A parting note on ladders, from an OSHA inspector.

The requirement says: Portable ladders used to gain access to an upper landing surface have side rails that extend at least 3 feet (0.9 m) above the upper landing surface. According to the inspector, this is the easiest fault to find (and occurs often). As the rungs are about 1 foot apart, all they have to do is look at the ladder and count the rungs above the surface. They don’t even have to be onsite — just driving by — obvious enough for them to stop and see what else wasn’t up to par . . . .


If you have questions about this information or need assistance for your company, facility, or project, please feel free to contact us.

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