OSHA Updates Rules on Work Surfaces and Fall Protection; Will Your Personnel Lifts Comply?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a final rule on one of its most far-reaching safety standards for general industry. On January 17, 2017, all employers must comply with new standards designed to protect workers from the risk of falling off of work surfaces.

This is a serious issue in the warehousing industry. As pallet racks have grown taller and taller, driven by the economics of vertical space and technological advances in high lift trucks, the need to lift staff to the upper reaches of the facility has increased substantially.

walking working surfacesHere’s what you need to know about the upcoming changes to familiar OSHA standards, particularly as they relate to personnel lift devices that attach to forklifts:

  • The changes are designed to give workers more flexibility in choosing a fall-protection system. Currently, work platforms that extend four feet above the floor must be protected by standard railings and toe guards, according to 29 CFR 1910.23(c)(1).

    However, advancements in fall protection systems provide alternative, and equally safe, means of preventing falls. The new OSHA standards will reflect the current technological era.

  • The specific changes alter two well-known regulations: 29 CFR 1910, subpart D, on walking/working surfaces; and 29 CFR 1910, subpart I, on personal protective equipment.

    The new standards update specific areas of subpart D, bringing them closer into line with the choices available in standards for the construction industry. They will add a new requirement to subpart I, defining acceptable limits in fall-protection systems.

  • In order to keep up with the new, more flexible requirements, choose personnel lifts equipped with several compliant fall protection systems. Forklift Work Platforms, for instance, incorporate lockable steel gates, a pair of attachment points for safety harnesses, and an adjustable hook & chain mast restraint.

  • The changes will keep workers who use lifts much safer. According to OSHA analysis, the new rules will prevent 29 fatal and 5,842 non-fatal injuries per year.

  • If you work in a facility that uses personnel lifts, including Forklift Work Platforms, you will need to study up on the new regulations. An OSHA press release says that the new rule will affect 7 million worksites. That’s around 112 million workers. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re among them.

  • Employers will have to train staff on fall-arresting equipment and fall hazards in general. They may also have to inspect anchorages on certain types of equipment.

This may seem like a lot to process, but the new OSHA standards are actually designed to provide employers and their staff with more choices for fall-protection systems. In order to take advantage of this new flexibility, choose work platforms that cover all the bases. Forklift Work Platforms from BHS comply with previous regulations by including a 42-inch guardrail with a gate, but they’re ready for the new rules thanks to anchor points for the restraint system of your choice.


Final Rule to Update General Industry Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards.OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

OSHA issues final rule updating walking-working surfaces standards and establishing personal fall protection systems requirements.OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, 17 Nov. 2016. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

Walking-Working Surfaces – 1910 Subpart D.” OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems).FederalRegister. Office of the Federal Register, United States National Archives and Records Administration, 18 Nov. 2016. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.