Washington State Revises Walking and Working Surfaces and Ladder Safety Regulations

Due to changes in Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations covering walking and working surfaces, ladders, and fall protection requirements, the Washington Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) revised their rules to meet the federal requirements. The action by DOSH addressed changes to the general walking and working surfaces and ladders and these rules were adopted on April 21, 2020 and become effective on October 1, 2020.

A second rule revision package addressing fall protection is still being worked on and is near the final stages of completion. It should be issued in the near future.

The specific regulations for walking and working surfaces revised by DOSH are found in Chapter 296-24 WAC, General safety and health standard, and chapter 296-876 WAC, Ladders, portable, and fixed. The existing requirements for walking and working surfaces and ladders, portable and fixed have not yet been integrated with the amended sections of each rule. The amended sections include the strikeouts for deletions and underlined sections for additions. The adopted amendments incorporate federal provisions, but there is one significant difference in the ladder inspection and training requirements.

For ladder inspections, a competent person needs to inspect any ladder prior to being placed in use for the first time and if an existing ladder would become damaged by impact, tip over, or if exposed to fire.

Under the employee training requirements, a competent person is required to train employees in the proper construction, use, placement, and care in handling ladders, the maximum intended load capacities of ladders that are used, and other applicable requirements such as how to inspect ladders prior to use, how to properly set up a portable ladder, and how to ascend and descend ladders.

A competent person is defined in the regulations as an individual knowledgeable of ladders, including the manufacturer's recommendations and instructions for the proper use, inspection, and maintenance; and who is capable of identifying existing and potential ladder hazards; and who has the authority to take prompt corrective action to eliminate those hazards; and who is knowledgeable of the rules contained in this part regarding the installation, use, inspection, and maintenance of ladders. For more information on compliance programs for walking, working surfaces and ladder safety, visit SGIA’s Walking and Working Surfaces Safety Package.