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It Took Two Decades – But OSHA Releases Final Rule on Walking Working Surfaces

Posted by Marci Kinter on 7/27/18 11:15 AM

After two decades of touch and go, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) updated its rule addressing walking and working surfaces. The rule, which took effect on January 17, 2017, is extensive and covers all areas where an employee may be required to work, including ground-level surfaces, elevated surfaces, parking lots, sidewalks, steps, ladders, loading docks and roofs.  The rule applies to all printing operations.



The goal of the regulation is to prevent slips, trips and falls in the workplace. It addresses common actions such as housekeeping as well as fall protection requirements for employees that are more than four feet above a work surface. One key change is that it allows more flexibility for employers to select a fall protection system, where necessary, for the specific employee activity. Some of the requirements must be met now, while others will be phased in over time. 

According to OSHA, about 20% of all fatalities and work-day injuries are due to falls from ladders. The final rule covers all fixed and portable ladders and requires that they be inspected before initial use in each work shift for defects that could cause employee injury.  


The new rule also sets standards for fall protection covering any equipment, device or system that prevents a worker from falling from an elevation or preventing the worker from coming in contact with a lower level, if a fall occurs. Fall protection is required for any elevated work surface that is four feet or greater above the next adjacent surface. These areas include loading docks, fixed ladders, hoist areas, floor, wall or equipment openings, equipment access platforms, gaps between platforms, equipment and roofs.

The final rule requires that each employee who uses personal fall protection systems is required to be trained by a qualified person in a manner that the employee understands on or before May 17, 2017. Do you know where fall protection is needed in your operation?  Have you trained your employees?  


OSHA’s new walking-working surfaces rule is very broad and impacts every location where an employee will work. To help the industry understand and comply, SGIA, in cooperation with the Printing Industries of America, presented a three-part webinar series covering the ins and outs of this revised regulation.  In addition, we developed checklists for use!  For more information, contact

Topics: SGIA, Printing, Printing Industry, Installers, Government, OSHA, Fall Protection