SGIA Requests Washington State to Change Certain Fall Protection Rule Requirements

Written March 9, 2020

Categories: AD Advocacy, CP Advocacy, DP Advocacy, DT Advocacy, First to Know, FP Advocacy, GP Advocacy, IPDAA Advocacy, SM Advocacy

As a result of changes made by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to the fall protection requirements, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), has continued its rulemaking process to revise its state regulations. Several of the DOSH’s current requirements are not as stringent as what is required by OSHA and must be changed. In order to streamline and update its regulations, DOSH decided to prepare a unified regulation that covers both private industry and construction companies. Usually, the regulations for both industry segments are kept separate.

The rulemaking process involved the release of a draft regulation and a series of public meetings to receive comment and feedback. After receiving feedback on its proposals, revised drafts were released at the end of 2019. Additional public meetings were held at the beginning of the year and comments were solicited on them.

SGIA reviewed the proposed rules and found that SGIA’s previous request to revise the regulation was only partly accepted. At the request of SGIA, DOSH changed the written program requirement for heights by increasing the threshold from 4 feet to 10 feet. However, they still retained a written program requirement that is not included in OSHA’s updated rule. In addition, the proposed regulation addressing ladders requires all employees that are to use a ladder be trained by a “competent person”. The proposal defines a competent person as an expert in ladder installation, use, inspection, and maintenance.

SGIA submitted an additional set of written comments requesting the requirement to develop a formal written fall protection plan be deleted. Under OSHA’s final rule, fall protection is required for any employee required to work at a height greater than 4 feet above a worksurface. DOSH’s proposed written fall protection plan requirement is redundant with another requirement under the current Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) regulation, which requires companies to prepare a hazard assessment and identify appropriate protective equipment to protect employees from injury. The PPE regulation also requires the employer to provide employee training on how to properly use it. SGIA submitted a separate comment letter requesting that the competent person requirement for performing ladder training for employees be removed from the regulation.

SGIA will continue to follow this important legislative activity. For more information, please contact the SGIA Government Affairs Department at govtaffairs@sgia.org.