New rules for walking-working surfaces take effect Nov. 1, 2017

Changes cover a wide range of workers and include portable ladders, training, dock boards, fall protection, and more.

posted October 20, 2017

Oregon OSHA has adopted several changes to the walking-working surfaces rule to align general industry standards with construction. The changes become effective November 1, 2017, and apply to all general industry workplaces. Some requirements have later dates to allow employers time to comply.

Important dates to remember:

Nov. 1, 2017: New rules go into effect and can be enforced

Jan. 1, 2018: Dockboards must meet new rules

Nov. 1, 2018: Fixed ladders extending more than 24 feet must have personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system.

May 1, 2018: Deadline for employee exposure training for personal fall protection systems and proper care, inspection, storage, and use of equipment

Here are some highlights:
Portable ladders

Under the new rules, portable ladders:

  • Must have slip-resistant rungs and steps
  • Must be secure and stable on slippery surfaces
  • May not be moved if a worker is on the ladder
  • Can not use top step and bottom caps as steps
  • Can not be fastened together to increase length (unless designed for that purpose)
  • Can not be placed on boxes or barrels to increase height

Workers who use personal fall protection must be trained about the associated hazards. Retraining is required if an operation changes or the employer believes it is necessary. A qualified trainer must ensure that the workers can:

  • Identify and minimize fall hazards.
  • Use personal fall protection systems.
  • Maintain, inspect, and store equipment used for fall protection.

Dockboards (moveable metal plates used for bridging a gap between a vehicle and loading platform) must be capable of supporting their maximum intended load. They must also be designed and constructed to prevent transfer vehicles from running off the edge.

Fixed ladders

Fixed ladders longer than 24 feet must have a personal fall arrest system or a ladder safety system.

More information

This article does not cover all of the rule changes. For an overview, visit Oregon OSHA's website. If you have additional questions, please contact your safety consultant, or email


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