Understanding OSHA Fall Protection Standards

In November of 2016, OSHA issued its final rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems. This rule, stated in full in CFR 1910 Subpart D, was in the works for decades and was designed to protect workers in general industry from the harm that can result from falls. Falling from heights and onto working surfaces frequently results in injuries and even deaths. These accidents are preventable with the right safety training and equipment. What do OSHA’s fall protection standards now require in terms of safety equipment and its use in the workplace? Read on.

fall protection

Understanding CFR 1910 Subpart D

CFR 1910 Subpart D became effective on January 17,2017. The summary of this rule stated:

“OSHA is revising and updating its general industry standards on walking-working surfaces to prevent and reduce workplace slips, trips, and falls, as well as other injuries and fatalities associated with walking-working surface hazards. The final rule includes revised and new provisions addressing, for example, fixed ladders; rope descent systems; fall protection systems and criteria, including personal fall protection systems; and training on fall hazards and fall protection systems. In addition, the final rule adds requirements on the design, performance, and use of personal fall protection systems.

“The final rule increases consistency between the general industry and construction standards, which will make compliance easier for employers who conduct operations in both industry sectors. Similarly, the final rule updates requirements to reflect advances in technology and to make them consistent with more recent OSHA standards and national consensus standards. OSHA has also reorganized the requirements and incorporated plain language in order to make the final rule easier to understand and follow. The final rule also uses performance-based language whenever possible to give employers greater compliance flexibility.”

What Does All of This Mean in Terms of Fall Protection?

This rule allows employers to select the fall protection system that works best for their specific environments from the options OSHA permits including:

  • Guardrail systems
  • Safety net systems
  • Personal fall arrest systems
  • Positioning systems
  • Travel restraint systems
  • Ladder safety systems

Because every workplace is different, and its needs are different, the best fall protection will vary. Here is a helpful infographic explaining how employers can know what OSHA requires of them based on what happens on the workfloor:

CFR 1910 Subpart D

With a better understanding of these fall protection standards, one employer may decide that utilizing Dual Chain is fall protection enough for the conditions in his workplace. Other employers may be required to put up a dock impact barrier that is capable of stopping a gross load of 10,000 pounds traveling at 4 MPH.

It’s important to be aware of OSHA’s requirements for several reasons. First, correctly implementing safety equipment and procedures protects our more than 112 million American workers. OSHA estimated in 2016 that these updated protection standards would prevent 29 deaths and decrease the more than 5,842 workplace injuries that occur every year here in America. The second reason is, of course, financial. Failure to comply with these standards can result in a maximum fine of $13,260.00 per dock.

If you have any questions about OSHA’s fall protection standards or what equipment would be best to purchase and install in your facility in order to meet them, we at Beuschel Sales would be happy to discuss your working environment with you and present you with all of your options. Call us today for help!

Scroll to Top