OSHA’s Top Citation: Fall Protection: New Gear, New Regulations and New Standards – What Every EHS Pro Should Know!

By Guest Blogger: Allyson Clark

Photo Credit: Western Area Power

Plan, Provide and Trainis OSHA’s slogan for fall protection – sounds easy enough, Right? Well except that for the last 10 years, fall protection has been the number one issued citation by OSHA for construction and general industry. In fact, falls rank as the number one cause of work related injury and deaths.   So what regulation, product performance standards and gear should EHS Professional be in the know of? – Well Keep Reading!

New Regulation for General Industry:

On Jan 17th, 2017, OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.21-.30 Walking-Working Surfaces (WWS) Rule specific to slip, trip, and fall hazards  became enforceable. Slips trips and falls are proportionally high for general industry accidents and for the construction industry.  This final rule adds training, inspections, as well as updates for general industry standards and adds requirements for personal fall protection standards. While this rule affects a wide range of workers, from painters to warehouse workers, it will not change construction or agricultural standards.

OSHA estimates that 345 fatalities occur annually among workers directly affected by this standard.

The new standard for General Industry requires that employers must protect workers from fall hazards along unprotected sides or edges that are at least 4 feet above a lower level. The rule also provides direction on when to use fall protection for runways, areas above dangerous equipment, wall openings, repair pits, stairways, scaffolds, slaughtering platforms and hoisting areas. Additionally, the rule gives direction on when to inspect, use and maintenance of personal fall protection systems. The rule also includes new provisions for fixed ladders, un-caged ladders and rope position systems.

Now a quick Reg Refresher: OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in long-shoring operations. Refer to OSHA’s fall protection page for more information.

The Walking Working Surface rule also includes new training requirements that directs an employer to train any employee who uses a personal fall protection system to be trained by a qualified trainer for ensuring that correct procedures for installing, inspecting, operating and maintaining of the fall protection equipment. By OSHA’s definition, found within 29 CFR 1926.32(m), “Qualified” means one who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully demonstrated his ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project. Training should address the importance of inspections prior to each use. The deadline for meeting these training requirement is also rapidly approaching May 17, 2017.  Read the full discussion of the new rule in the Federal Register Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 223, pages 82494-83006.

If you haven’t found a trainer to meet the May 17th Deadline here are some vendors providing Fall Prevention and Protection Training:

*Just an FYI, Allyson Clark and LeadingEHS.com are not officially endorsing these trainers, nor can we assume any responsibility for these vendors, we are simply providing them as a resource.

For a behavioral based approach for fall protection safety, a great resource is stopthinkprevent.com. This is a website dedicated to an innovative approach to fall prevention and it has a nice collection of encouraging pictures, videos, posters, and reminders about why falls are commonly associated with human errors, along with how to mitigate this risk.

Updated ANSI Standard:

Additionally, ANSI/ASSE Z359.1 -2016, has been recently updated.  While it’s not the law, it complements OSHA and other regulatory requirements for meeting a consensus among industry professionals for Fall Protection Systems. Since the nature of OSHA is to not provide direct guidance on specific fall protection equipment but provide regulation, the updated ANSI Fall Protection Standard provides practical guidence for maintaining fall protection systems standards, this includes fall restraint systems, work positioning systems, rope access systems, fall arrest systems, and rescue systems. If you haven’t heard, by August 14, 2017, this consensus standard will require equipment manufactures to comply with new design parameters.

The ANSI standard focuses on performance, design, marking, qualifications, instruction, training, inspection, use maintenance, so it’s important to remember that when your company is looking for a full body harnesses, connectors, lanyards, self-retracting devices, energy absorbers, fall arresters or anchorage connections – look to see if they meet Z359.1 Standard.

New Advancements in Fall Protection:

I couldn’t help but notice that there is a lot of great equipment that is quite innovative in design regarding safety and ease of use.  While this list is not comprehensive, it does provide some of the most advanced equipment in the fall protection industry. Now none of these products were tested by the author or by LeadingEHS.com and nor can we assume responsibility for the validity of product claims, but they are some of newest products being used in the industry.

Summary of Manufacturer’s Description: One of the most progressive items I have found recently is this new self-rescue zip line pack. It launched in April and is built right here in US. While most harnesses are designed to where you have to wait for an emergency crew, this system is designed to get you down by yourself within seconds. For a stuck window washer, crane operator, telephone pole worker or maintence worker who might be working alone, this device has a pull release cord that allows you to slowly zip line to safety.

Summary of Manufacturer’s Description: MSA Safety has launched the Latchways 10-foot Cable Personal Fall Limiter (PFL).  is said to be the most compact and lightweight self-retracting lanyard (SRL) in its class using multiple spring radial energy-absorbing technology. What I like a lot about this product is the clear casing that you can visually inspect the components.  Additionally, it accompanies both a 360-degree and a 180-degree attachment point.  The company says the new design eliminates the need for an external energy absorber outside of the housing, making it the smallest self-retracting lanyard in its class. MSA Safety also recommends these PFL devices for use in multiple work applications for contractors working in industries such as general industry, utilities, construction, and oil and gas.

Summary of Manufacturer’s Description: KNIPEX Tools has introduced 24 tools with tether attachment mounts for its Tethered Tool Pliers Program. Tools with tether attachments and lanyard connections provide effective protection against injuries caused by falling tools. The tether attachment point is a plastic bracket with a closed wire clamp that is securely welded to the multi-component handle of the tool.

Summary of Manufacturer’s Description:  FallTech’s has a new Journeyman Flex harness that features lightweight aluminum hardware, and breathable stitched-down pad sets. It has forged aluminum alloy D-rings, torso adjusters and belt buckles, premium breathable padded air mesh shoulder yoke with integral non-slip dorsal D-ring adjustment, and 18″ contoured stitched-down leg pads. Fall Tech boast that it products are designed to be durable, comfortable and affordable.

Summary of Manufacturer’s Description:  The FreeTech has a harness that is a figure-8 style fall protection harness that integrates a patent-pending SwitchPoint™ System for improving the comfort and mobility of a suspended worker in a post-fall scenario. This unique release mechanism provides a means for the user to safely and easily transfer their body weight from the dorsal connector on the upper back to the front waist location of the harness to reorient into a seated position. This repositioning aids the wearer by allowing increased freedom and mobility, which may help delay the onset of orthostatic intolerance, also referred to as suspension trauma. The FreeTech design and function provide a more comfortable position and allow additional freedom of movement to a fallen and suspended worker while awaiting rescue.

Final Notes to EHS Professionals:

Lastly, as regulations, standards and equipment change it important to remember the value of updating your knowledge and keeping up with industry trends. For the EHS Professional, OSHA provides free educational wallet cards, posters, guidance, publications and facts sheets to promote prevention of slip, trips and falls.  Additionally, a free consultation can be provided by OSHA as well for further guidance.


About Allyson Clark

A Clark HeadshotI am an energetic, dedicated Environmental Health and Safety Professional that thrives on being exceptional. I enjoy promoting worker’s safety, developing common sense solutions to environmental compliance, and finding out of the box solutions for meeting complex EHS compliance. I recently attained my Associate Safety Professional certification and I am looking forward to attaining additional EHS certifications.

Guest Bloggers on LeadingEHS.com

From time to time I find other professionals whom I believe have something important to say. I like to offer them a forum to make their point and hopefully spark some healthy debate. It also offers my readers some variety of style and opinion. I don’t have any formal criteria for selecting Guest Bloggers. The selection is usually made during a scintillating conversation between me and another person that leads me to think: that would be a great blog post!   -Chet

About Chet Brandon

I am a highly experienced Health, Safety and Environmental Professional for Fortune 500 Companies. I love the challenge of ensuring HSE excellence in process, manufacturing and other heavy industry settings. The connection of EHS to Sustainability is a fascinating subject for me. I believe that the future of industrial organizations depends on the adoption of sustainable practices.
This entry was posted in OSHA Compliance, Technical Skills and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to OSHA’s Top Citation: Fall Protection: New Gear, New Regulations and New Standards – What Every EHS Pro Should Know!

  1. Jack Benton says:

    Reblogged this on EHS Safety News America and commented:
    Excellent read on LeadingEHS.

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