Fact Sheet

U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Spring 2010

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Subparts D and I

OSHA has published a notice of proposed rulemaking on subparts D and I of 29 CFR 1910 that contains occupational safety standards for general industry. A leading cause of worker-related injury and death comes from employees slipping, tripping, or falling from work surfaces such as floors, platforms, portable and fixed ladders, stairs, and ramps. Employees may be exposed and unprotected from these hazards or may have a protection system in place but are using that system incorrectly. OSHA believes the proposed rule will substantially reduce worker-related injuries and deaths.


  • Subpart D contains standards for walking-working surfaces and was adopted in April of 1971 in accordance with Section 6(a) of the OSH Act. The primary sources for subpart D were several pre-1971 editions of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus standards. There has been little change to the standard in subpart D since its initial adoption.

  • Some early OSHA walking-working surfaces standards were developed with little consideration given to the consistency among the requirements applicable to general industry, shipyards, and construction. As a result, there are different requirements for similar, and sometimes identical, hazards in different industries.

  • Existing subpart D is organized such that its sections are often redundant and difficult to use. Reducing redundancy makes subpart D clearer and easier to read, facilitating workers’ and employers’ understanding and application of the rule.

  • In 1973, OSHA published a proposed revision of subpart D that was withdrawn in 1976 because, in the Agency's view, it had become outdated and did not reflect then-current information. In 1990, OSHA published another proposed rule to reorganize, update, and clarify the subpart and add personal fall protection requirements to subpart I, which regulates personal protective equipment. In 2003, the rulemaking record was reopened and several issues were raised. Comments to the record indicated that the 1990 proposed rule was outdated and did not give adequate consideration to newer technology. In 2005, the decision was made to completely redraft the proposed rule. The 1990 proposal was not withdrawn, and therefore is still on record today as a proposed rule

  • Subpart I contains standards for personal protective equipment, but it does not currently address personal fall protection systems.

Overview of Proposed Subparts D and I

  • OSHA estimates the proposed rule would prevent 20 workplace fatalities per year, and over 3,700 injuries per year that are serious enough to result in days away from work.

  • Subpart D would be reorganized in a clear, logical manner, thereby facilitating compliance and enhancing employee protection.

  • The proposed rule would eliminate duplication and extensive specification of requirements, while emphasizing performance-based criteria; for example, the proposal would incorporate the construction scaffolding standards, which would eliminate the need for most scaffold specifications in general industry.

  • A new section would be added to subpart I that provides criteria for fall protection equipment. This new section would make the general industry standards consistent with existing construction and maritime standards regulating fall protection, as well as current industry practice, and give clear standards on fall protection PPE to employers.

  • Compliance flexibility would be provided for the mitigation of fall hazards; for example, proposed subpart D would require fall protection, but would provide options for compliance such as travel restraint systems and designated areas for fall protection when appropriate. Subpart I would provide criteria on the proper use of personal fall protection systems when used by the employer.

Public Notice, Comment, and Public Hearing

With the publication of the proposal in the Federal Register, OSHA is expecting to receive numerous public comments on proposed subparts D and I. In its news release on the publication, OSHA has also informed the public that the Agency plans on holding public hearings.

Stakeholders Affected by the Proposed Rule

The Agency has identified and planned an outreach program to major stakeholders upon publication of the proposal in the Federal Register. These stakeholders include unions, industry, and voluntary consensus standards developers. In addition, OSHA anticipates comment from many different stakeholders on the proposal, and expects to receive hearing requests from some of these stakeholders.

This fact sheet has been developed by the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Washington, DC 20210. Voice phone: 202.693.3200; TTY: 1.877.889.5627.