OSHA issues corrections to Walking-Working Surfaces rule
In a notice published Tuesday in the Federal Register, OSHA issued corrections to its Walking-Working Surfaces Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems), and Special Industries (Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution) rule.
Ladders (§ 1910.23)
Current § 1910.23(d)(4) requires employers to ensure that the side rails of through or side-step ladders extend 42 inches above the top of the access level or landing platform served by the ladder. As stated in the preamble to the final rule, the agency intended workers to have sufficient handholds “at least 42 inches” above the highest level on which they will step when reaching the access level (81 FR 82494, 82542). OSHA is correcting this error by revising § 1910.23(d)(4) to state that 42 inches is the minimum—not the exact—measurement for fixed ladder side rail extensions.
Stairways (§ 1910.25)
Current § 1910.25(a) sets forth the types of stairways covered under this section. These include all stairways except for stairs serving floating roof tanks, stairs on scaffolds, stairs designed into machines or equipment, and stairs on self-propelled motorized equipment. In this correction, OSHA is clarifying that articulated stairs, which were excluded from coverage by the rule adopted in 1971 (36 FR 10474), as well as by the rule proposed in 1990 (55 FR 13360, 13363), are not covered by the current standard. In the 2010 proposed rule and the 2016 final rule, OSHA referred to these stairs as “stairs serving floating roof tanks” but did not call them “articulated stairs.” (75 FR 28862, 28882; 81 FR at 82555). OSHA is now clarifying that all articulated stairs used in general industry, not just those serving floating roof tanks, remain excluded from coverage by § 1910.25. By not including this exception, the standard would require all articulated stairs that do not serve floating roof tanks, including those that were previously excluded, to meet the requirements set forth in § 1910.25. OSHA did not intend for any types of articulated stairs to be covered by the standard.
The figure at 29 CFR 1910.25(c) immediately after Table D-1 does not have a title even though it is referred to as Figure D-8 in § 1910.25(c)(4). The title of the figure was included in the proposed rule (75 FR at 29137) but mistakenly left out of the final rule (81 FR at 82989). This document adds the missing title to the figure: “Figure D-8—Dimensions of Standard Stairs”.
Scaffolds and Rope Descent Systems (§ 1910.27)
In paragraph (b)(1)(i) of § 1910.27, OSHA is correcting a typographical error in the metric parenthetical for 5,000 pounds. The parenthetical currently states the metric equivalent to 5,000 pounds is 268 kg. The correct metric equivalent is 2,268 kg.
Fall Protection Systems and Falling Object Protection—Criteria and Practices (§ 1910.29)
OSHA is correcting Figure D-11 to include labels identifying the top rail and end post in the top diagram of the figure. The words “top rail” and “end post” were mistakenly omitted when the final rule was published in the Federal Register (81 FR at 82995).
Personal Fall Protection Systems (§ 1910.140)
Current § 1910.140(c)(8) requires D-rings, snaphooks, and carabiners to be proof tested to a minimum tensile load of 3,600 pounds without cracking, breaking, or incurring permanent deformation. The provision also requires the gate strength of snaphooks and carabiners to be proof tested to 3,600 pounds in all directions. In the November 18, 2016, final rule (81 FR at 82653), OSHA intended to be consistent with the ANSI/ASSE Z359.12-2009 consensus standard, Connecting Start Printed Page 68795Components for Personal Fall Arrest Systems. That consensus standard requires snaphooks, carabiners, and D-rings (and other hardware) to be proof tested to 3,600 pounds (ANSI/ASSE Z359.12-2009, section 22.214.171.124) and requires the gate of snaphooks and carabiners to be capable of withstanding a minimum load of 3,600 pounds without the gate separating from the nose of the snaphook or carabiner body by more than 0.125 inches (ANSI/ASSE Z359.12-2009, section 126.96.36.199). OSHA correctly added the first requirement to the 2016 final rule—namely the requirement that snaphooks, carabiners, and D-rings be proof tested to 3,600 pounds. When it came to the gate strength requirement, OSHA mistakenly added the requirement that the gate strength of snaphooks and carabiners be proof tested to 3,600 pounds in all directions instead of adding the intended requirement that the gate of snaphooks and carabiners be capable of withstanding a minimum load of 3,600 pounds without the gate separating from the nose of the snaphook or carabiner body by more than 0.125 inches. It should also be noted that proof testing of the gates of snaphooks and carabiners could be destructive to the equipment, rendering them unsafe for workers in the field. In this document, OSHA is correcting the gate strength provision to be consistent with the national consensus standard, as originally intended, and as stated in letters of interpretation to the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) (see response to question 5 here: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/2017-08-18) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) (see response to question 1 here: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/2017-08-31).
Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution (§ 1910.269)
Section 1910.269(h)(2) contains references to ladder standards (§§ 1910.25(d)(2)(i) and (iii) and 1910.26(c)(3)(iii)) that are not the correct references. OSHA is revising § 1910.269(h)(2) by replacing the incorrect references with the correct references, which are § 1910.23(c)(4) and (9).
The corrections are effective immediately.