Overview of Subpart D Walking-Working Surfaces Rule

Subpart D Walking-Working Surfaces Rule

The new walking-working surfaces rule became effective on Jan. 17, 2017 with only a few provisions of the rule with delayed effective dates. The full rule can be found at https://www.osha.gov/walking-working-surfaces/RegTextWWSFinalRule.pdf.

This is a brief overview of the new General Industry Fall Protection section 1910.28 Duty to have Fall Protection and falling object protection in the workplace. This new Subpart D will have a great impact on many General Industry businesses work activities. If you feel your General Industry business will be impacted by this new Subpart D Walking-Working Surfaces rule, please contact your local Safety Consultation and Training Section (SCATS) for assistance at 1-877-472-3368 or online here.

Subpart D Walking-Working Surfaces

1910.28 Duty to have Fall Protection and falling object protection overview

(a)    General

(1) This section requires employers to provide protection for each employee exposed to fall and falling object hazards. All employer-provided fall and falling object protection must meet the criteria in 1910.29 unless criteria falls under 1910.140.

(2) This section does not apply:

(i) Portable ladders;

(ii)  When employers are inspecting, investigating or assessing workplace conditions or work to be performed prior to the start of work or after all work has been completed. This exemption does not apply if 1910.29 criteria fall protection systems or equipment have already been installed and are available for workers to use.  

(iii) Fall hazards presented by the exposed perimeters of entertainment stages and the exposed perimeters of rail station platforms.

(b)   Protection from fall hazards (14 specific item subsections):

(1)   Unprotected sides and edges – (i) The employer must ensure that each employee on a walking-working surface with an unprotected side or edge that is 4 feet (1.2 m) or more above a lower level is protected from falling by one or more of the following: Guardrail systems; safety net systems or personal fall protection systems.

(ii) When the employer can demonstrate that (i) is not feasible or creates a greater hazard to workers while on residential roofs, the employer must develop and implement a fall protection plan that meets the requirements of 29 CFR 1926.502(k), 29 CFR 1926.503 (a) and (c).

(iii) When the employer can demonstrate that the use of fall protection systems is not feasible on the working side of a platform used as a loading rack, loading dock or teeming platform, the work may be done without a fall protection system, provided;

(A)   The work operation for which fall protection is infeasible is in process;

(B)   Access to the platform is limited to authorized employees and

(C)   The authorized employees are trained in accordance with 1910.30.

Other subsections requiring protection from fall hazards:

(2)   Hoist Areas – means any elevated access opening through which equipment or materials are loaded or received.

(3)   Holes – means a gap or open space in a horizontal walking-working surface that is at least 2 inches in its least dimension.

(4)   Dock boards

(5)   Runways and similar walkways – means an elevated walking-working surface.

(6)   Dangerous Equipment – means equipment because of their function or form, may harm an employee who falls into or onto the equipment.

(7)   Openings – means a gap or open space in a vertical walking-working surface that is at least 30 inches (76cm) high and at least 18 inches (46cm) wide through which an employee can fall to a lower level.

(8)   Repair Pits, Service Pits and Assembly Pits less than 10 feet in depth

(9)   Fixed Ladders greater than 24 feet in length

(10) Outdoor Advertising (Billboards)

(11) Stairways

(12) Scaffolds and Rope Descent Systems (RDS)

(13) Work on low-slope roofs – slope less than or equal to a ratio of 4 (vertical) in 12 (horizontal).

(14) Slaughtering Facility Platforms

(c)    Protection from falling objects.

When an employee is exposed to falling objects, the employer must ensure that each employee wears head protection that meets the requirements of subpart 1 of this part. In addition, the employer must protect employees from falling objects by implementing one or more of the following:

(1)   Erecting toe boards, screens, or guardrail systems to prevent objects from falling to a lower level;

(2)   Erecting canopy structures and keeping potential falling objects far enough from an edge, hole, or opening to prevent them from falling to a lower level: and

(3)   Barricading the area into which objects could fall, prohibiting employees from entering the barricaded area, and keeping objects far enough from an edge or opening to prevent them from falling to a lower level.