OSHA Proposed Changes to General Requirements Standard

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: February 2nd, 2012

OSHA fall protection requirements for general industry are set out primarily in the Walking-Working Surfaces standards—Subpart D. On May 24, 2010, OSHA proposed changes to Subpart D. Here are the 4 proposed changes affecting the General Requirements standard (Section 1910.22).

Change 1: Broader Duty to Keep Surfaces Hazard Free

Current Rule: To facilitate cleaning, every floor, working place, and passageway must be kept free from protruding nails, splinters, holes or loose boards.

Proposed Change: Employers must ensure that all surfaces are designed, constructed and maintained free of recognized hazards that can result in employee injury or death.

Change 2: Floor Loading Requirements More Clearly Spelled Out

Current Rule: Employers must post plates indicating load limits of the building or structure.

Proposed Rule: Employers must ensure walking-working surfaces are strong enough to support any loads placed on them. This was merely implied in the previous rule. Posting of load limits would no longer be required under the new standard.

Change 3: New Access and Egress Requirement

Current Rule: Unlike in the Construction standards, the general industry rules don’t specifically address access/egress from one walking-working surface to another.

Proposed Rule: OSHA wants to add a new subsection (c) requiring employers to ensure employees a safe means of access to and egress from one walking-working surface to another.

Change 4: New Inspection, Maintenance & Repair Requirement

Current Rule: The standard doesn’t talk about inspection and maintenance of walking-working surfaces.

Proposed Rule: OSHA wants to add a new subsection (d) adding inspection requirements. Here’s the language:

(d) Maintenance and repair.

(1) The employer must ensure through regular and periodic inspection and maintenance that walking-working surfaces are in a safe condition for employee use.

(2) The employer must ensure that all hazardous conditions are promptly corrected or repaired. If the repair can not be made immediately, the hazard must be guarded to prevent employee use.

(3) Where hazardous conditions may affect the structural integrity of the walking-working surface, a qualified person must perform or supervise the maintenance or repair of that surface.