The focus of this safety and health page is limited to the hazards associated with walking-working surfaces in general industry. Included under this heading are the requirements for fall protection as it pertains to general industry applications. For a discussion of fall protection in construction, go to the fall protection safety and health topic page.
A walking-working surface is defined as any horizontal or vertical surface on or through which an employee walks, works, or gains access to a work area or workplace location.
What are the hazards associated with walking-working surfaces?
Employees accessing or working from walking-working surfaces that are not properly maintained or constructed can suffer sprains, strains and broken bones. Where employees must work from elevated platforms or open-sided floors, falls from unprotected areas can also result in death.
What can I do to protect myself?
Employees should always examine any walking or working surface for the presence of slippery conditions, non-intact surfaces, or unguarded openings or open sides before stepping onto it. Workers working from elevated platforms should be sure to wear and properly use any required fall arrest or position restraint systems. Any fall arrest or position restraint devices worn by employees must be examined for defects prior to using it.
What resources are available to assist employers?
Training and Outreach Services
The walking-working surfaces presentation is available for workplaces to assist in training their staff. The presentation should be modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards. This pre-recorded webinar on walking and working surfaces can also be accessed at any time.
In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.
Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).
A-Z Safety and Health Topics
The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.
What standards apply?
OSH has adopted the following standards which are applicable to walking working surfaces in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic.
29 CFR 1910 Subpart D - walking-working surfaces
29 CFR 1910.21 - scope and definitions
29 CFR 1910.22 - general requirements
29 CFR 1910.23 - ladders
29 CFR 1910.24 - step bolts and manhole steps
29 CFR 1910.25 - stairways
29 CFR 1910.26 - dockboards
29 CFR 1910.27 - scaffolds and rope descent systems
29 CFR 1910.28 - duty to have fall protection and falling object protection
29 CFR 1910.29 - fall protection systems and falling object protection-criteria and practices
29 CFR 1910.30 - training requirements
29 CFR 1910.140 - general industry, personal fall protection systems
29 CFR 1904.7 - general recording criteria
29 CFR 1904.39 - reporting fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye as a result of work-related incidents to OSHA
Other Applicable Standards
Additionally, the Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.
Where can I learn more?
A side-by-side comparison of the standards in 29 CFR 1910 Subpart D provides an effective means of comparing the new requirements with the previously existing requirements.
Industry Guide 49 - OSHA General Industry Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training, includes requirements for walking and working surfaces in general industry.
If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 919-707-7876.