Someone on the top tier of a stepladder

OSHA’s New Requirements for Walking-Working Surfaces

February 10, 2017

OSHA has revised its general industry standards on walking-working surfaces (WWS) to prevent and reduce slips, trips, and falls, as well as other injuries and fatalities associated with WWS hazards.

“The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries,” OSHA administrator David Michaels said. “OSHA believes advances in technology and greater flexibility will reduce worker deaths and injuries from falls.”


New Requirements Include:

    • Hazard assessment
    • Inspections
    • Fall protection
    • Training


OSHA has also reorganized the requirements and incorporated plain language in order to make the final rule easier to understand and follow.

According to OSHA, the most significant update to the rule allows employers to choose the fall protection system that is most effective for them and based on a variety of acceptable options, including the use of personal fall protection systems.

The final rule increases consistency between the general industry and construction standards, which will make compliance easier for employers who conduct operations in both industry sectors. The final rule does not change construction or agricultural standards, and OSHA stated that it tried to align fall protection requirements for general industry “as much as possible” with its requirements for construction because many employers perform both types of activities.


Employers Must:

  • Provide clean, orderly, dry, and sanitary conditions
  • Maintain free of hazards
  • Ensure loads can be supported
  • Provide safe access and egress
  • Conduct inspections, maintenance, and repair


Inspections of All WWS Must Be Done:

On a schedule, formal or informal, adequate enough to identify slip, trip, and fall hazards in      the workplace (must be conducted according to the frequency established by the employer).

As Necessary

When workplace conditions, circumstances, or events occur that warrant an additional check in the workplace to ensure that WWS are safe for employee use.


This final rule became effective on January 17, 2017. Some requirements in the final rule have compliance dates after the effective date. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Labor. Continue to their website here.