A.Steve Cant, federal-state operations manager at the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, responds: You are correct that the fall protection standard used in Washington differs from the OSHA standard. The State of Washington, like 26 other states and territories, is authorized by OSHA to operate a state plan for occupational safety and health. In fact, Washington had a state-operated program long before Congress passed the OSHA legislation. State plans are required to be as effective as any applicable OSHA standards, although they are not required to be identical.

Unlike the OSHA standard, Washington’s fall protection standard relies on a "firm 10-foot" rule applied throughout the construction industry. The federal OSHA standard includes a range of requirements, depending on the type of construction activity involved; it even allows employers to declare that fall protection is not readily...

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