Washington L&I revises fall protection rules to align with federal OSHA

Washington L&I revises fall protection rules to align with federal OSHA

Tumwater, WA — Updated fall protection rules in Washington state went into effect Nov. 1, bringing them in line with that of federal OSHA.

Initiated in July, rulemaking involved amending Washington Department of Labor & Industries’ safety standard fall protection rules to make them “at least as effective” as those administered by federal OSHA – a requirement of OSHA’s State Plan program. The update involved revising certain requirements contained in the Unified Safety Standards for Fall Protection – specifically those related to roofing activities that involve leading-edge work, work performed on a low-pitched or flat roof, and ski area facility and operations.

During construction projects involving roofing work on a low-pitched or roof and constructing a leading edge, the threshold height for required fall protection was lowered to 6 feet from 10 feet.

Additionally, the updated rule states that using a safety watch system must involve one employee conducting work – other than construction – on a low-pitched roof not within 6 feet of the roof edge. A second employee would act solely as a safety watch, with no other duties.

To help employers and workers understand and comply with the updated rules, Washington L&I recommends visiting its Falls (From Heights) and Roofing Fall Protection Training webpages.

The update of the rule was spurred by an August 2021 letter from OSHA that expressed concerns about Washington L&I’s standard.