Available Now: 2023 Schedule of Hazmat & RCRA Training

OSHA Proposes 2 Revisions to Walking Working Surfaces Standard

Posted on 6/23/2021 by Roger Marks

In May 2021, OSHA proposed two revisions to the Walking-Working Surfaces Standard at 29 CFR 1910, Subpart D, to clarify new requirements added when the Standard was overhauled in 2016.  

The requirements for handrails and stairs in the 2016 Final Rule led many employers to seek clarification from OSHA about when handrails are required on stairs, as well as handrail height.

With its most recent announcement, OSHA proposes to clarify the Walking-Working Surfaces Standard requirements without changing the intent of the 2016 Final Rule. Public comments on OSHA’s proposed clarifications are due by July 19, 2021.

Narrow Stairs, Open on Both Sides

The proposed rule would amend 29 CFR 1910.28(b) to clarify that a stair rail system with the handrail is required on the open side of certain stairways.

This change concerns stairs less than 44 inches (1.1 m) wide that are open on both sides. OSHA will correct a formatting error in Table D-2, which shows requirements for these types of stairs (see 29 CFR 1910.28).

The current text reads, “One stair rail system on each open side.”
The proposed update would read, “One stair rail system with handrail on each open side” (emphasis added).

OSHA will not require employers to modify existing stair rail systems that comply with the requirements of the 2016 Final Rule.  The revised language will apply to new handrails and stair rail systems.

Handrail Height Confusion

The proposed rule would amend 29 CFR 1910.29(f) to ease a restriction on stair rail systems installed before the 2016 Final Rule took effect.

The 2016 Final Rule of the Walking-Working Surfaces Standard set a new height requirement of at least 42 inches for top stair rails. For systems installed before the 2016 Final Rule took effect, OSHA had allowed the top rail of a stair rail system to serve as the handrail when it is “not less than 36 inches and not more than 38 inches” high. * 

Here’s the problem: Before 2016, the Standard required the top rail of a stair rail system to be between 30 and 34 inches. In other words, handrails installed to meet the Standard before the 2016 Final Rule were made non-compliant as a result of the updated requirements.

Under the most recent proposed revision, the top rail of a previously installed system (i.e., installation before the effective date of a new final rule) can serve as a handrail if that top rail is 30 to 38 inches in height and meets all other requirements of paragraph (f).

* See 29 CFR 1910.29(f)(1)(ii)(B) and (f)(1)(iii)(A).

Online OSHA 10 Hour Training 

Be confident your personnel are prepared to protect themselves from the hazards in your workplace. The 10-Hour OSHA General Industry Online Course is a convenient, effective way to get your team the training they need.

The course covers critical safety topics for general industry workers: PPE use and maintenance, Hazard Communication, electrical safety, materials handling, hearing protection, and more.

Which OSHA workplace health and safety Standards require employee training?

Tags: 29 CFR 1910, fall hazards, OSHA compliance, walking working surfaces, workplace safety

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

The price was reasonable, the time to complete the course was manageable, and the flexibility the online training allowed made it easy to complete.

Felicia Rutledge

Hazmat Shipping Professional

The instructor made the class enjoyable. He presented in a very knowledgeable, personable manner. Best class I've ever attended. Will take one again.

John Nekoloff

Environmental Compliance Manager

Well designed and thorough program. Excellent summary of requirements with references. Inclusion of regulations in hard copy form, as well as full electronic with state pertinent regulations included is a great bonus!

Oscar Fisher

EHS Manager

Lion's course was superior to others I have taken in the past. Very clear in the presentation and the examples helped to explain the content presented.

George Bersik

Hazardous Waste Professional

Energetic/enthusiastic! Made training enjoyable, understandable and fun!

Amanda Walsh

Hazardous Waste Professional

The instructor did an excellent job presenting a very dry subject; keeping everyone interested and making it enjoyable.

Marc Bugg

Hazardous Waste Professional

The instructor took a rather drab set of topics and brought them to life with realistic real-life examples.

Tom Berndt

HSE Coordinator

One of the best trainings I have ever received!

Brandon Morfin

EH&S Manager

The instructor does a great job at presenting material in an approachable way. I have been able to save my company about $30,000 in the last year with what I have learned from Lion!

Curtis Ahonen

EHS&S Manager

The workshop covered a lot of information without being too overwhelming. Lion is much better, more comprehensive than other training providers.

George Alva

Manufacturing Manager

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

In most cases, injuries that occur at work are work-related and must be recorded to maintain compliance with OSHA regulations. This report shows you the 9 types of injuries you don’t record.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.