On November 18, 2016 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a new 513 page final rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems. This rule becomes effective January 17, 2017 and will affect 6.9 million establishments that employ 112 million employees, according to Seyfarth Shaw. Included in these regulations is a training requirement for teaching people how to climb a ladder.
A last ditch effort
Despite that agencies were asked not to release new regulations in the last of the year prior to the new administration taking over, OSHA released this final rule which included a great deal of training that employers will be required to perform. The OSHA Fact sheet explains:
The rule adds a requirement that employers ensure workers who use personal fall protection and work in other specified high hazard situations are trained, and retrained as necessary, about fall and equipment hazards, including fall protection systems. A qualified person must train these workers to correctly: identify and minimize fall hazards; use personal fall protection systems and rope descent systems; and maintain, inspect, and store equipment or systems used for fall protection.
When there is a change in workplace operations or equipment, or the employer believes that a worker would benefit from additional training based on a lack of knowledge or skill, then the worker must be retrained. The training must be provided in a language and vocabulary that workers understand.
In OSHA’s defense falls from ladders do make up about 20% of the injuries recorded in businesses. Additionally falls from ladders make up a good number of home related injuries as well. A good friend’s husband just recently fell from a ladder messing up his back a great deal.
Hopefully training will prevent “stupid”
I am in total agreement with the necessity of safety training. Most of us assume that people know how to properly use a ladder. However, I have seen some stupid actions with ladders in my time. I am sure the guys in the picture up above have never had any safety training. As an employer, under the General Duty clause, you have an obligation to provide a workplace free of hazards that may cause injury or death to an employee. Sometimes this means you have to train them not to do stupid human tricks that will prompt someone to stop and take a picture of what they are doing.
You can read OSHA’s Final Rule to Update, Align, and Provide Greater Flexibility in its General Industry WalkingWorking Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards by clicking on the title. Don’t take too long however, these standards are effective by the middle of January.