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Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

Aug. 11, 2017

Minnesota OSHA adopts federal regulations for walking-working surfaces, fall protection in general industry

Falls from heights and on the same level (a working surface) are among the leading causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. From 2012 through 2016, Minnesota OSHA Compliance investigated 26 fatalities and 78 serious injuries due to falls.

Minnesota has now adopted the final rule from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about walking-working surfaces and personal fall-protection systems to better protect workers in general industry. The new rule updates and clarifies standards and adds training and inspection requirements. Among other things, the final rule gives employers greater compliance flexibility and increases consistency between standards for general industry and the construction industry, making compliance easier for employers that conduct operations in both industry sectors.

Minnesota OSHA's final rule becomes effective Sept. 19; federal OSHA's final rule became effective Jan. 17 for employers under federal jurisdiction. The Minnesota requirements mirror those of federal OSHA.

The rule affects a wide range of workers, from retail to warehouse. It does not change construction or agricultural standards.

The rule incorporates advances in technology, industry best-practices and national consensus standards to provide efficient and cost-effective worker protection. Specifically, it updates general industry standards addressing slip, trip and fall hazards (subpart D) and adds requirements for personal fall-protection systems (subpart I).

Benefits to employers

The rule benefits employers by providing greater flexibility in choosing a fall-protection system. For example, it eliminates the existing mandate to use guardrails as a primary fall-protection method and allows employers to choose from accepted fall-protection systems they believe will work best in a particular situation -- an approach that has been successful in the construction industry since 1994. In addition, employers will be able to use nonconventional fall protection in certain situations, such as designated areas on low-slope roofs.

Visit www.osha.gov/walking-working-surfaces for complete information.

About Minnesota OSHA

Minnesota has its own state-plan OSHA program, approved by federal OSHA, to assure safe and healthful working conditions for Minnesota workers through on-site inspections, citations for noncompliance, interpretation of standards and helping employers understand how to comply with standards. Minnesota OSHA regulations are required to be at least as effective as those of federal OSHA. Learn more at www.dli.mn.gov/MnOsha.asp.

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James Honerman, DLI
(651) 284-5313

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