Fall Protection under OSHA Guidelines
Written by Greg on April 12, 2015
For labor intensive environments, the potential for accidents can often come in many different forms. One of the more tragic, yet common occurrences, are falls that occur while on the job. According to the United States Department of Labor, through the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, in construction alone out of the 796 total deaths that occurred in 2013, 284 (or 36.9%) were due to falls.
In addition, the research also indicates that of the most frequently cited standard breaches, as set by Federal OSHA, the top was inadequate fall protection. To this extent, it is easy to understand why fall protection is a viable consideration at any workplace. To that end, it is first important to understand what fall protection is, and what it might entail within the workplace.
According to OSHA, “employers must set up the workplace to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls.”
In essence, employees must take care to minimize the potential that falls may occur. This is largely done by ensuring that all structures are sound and equipment is well maintained. In addition it is equally imperative that specific standards are set within the work environment to lessen the potential for human behavior to lead to potential accidents.
In this vein, as noted by OSHA, employers must:
- Set guards on every floor hole in order to ensure that that a worker may not accidentally fall through.
- Guard rails should be set around every elevated platform, runway, or floor.
- Anytime caustic solutions (such as a vat of acid), equipment, machines or other harmful materials are underneath a worker, no matter how high the height, and there is the potential for workers to fall into these aforementioned materials, then guardrails, safety nets, or other fall protection must be used.
In addition, employers must also take care to:
- Provide working conditions that are without any known dangers.
- Keep floors in the work area as clean as possible and ensure that conditions are kept dry to further prevent falls.
- Select and provide workers with personal protective equipment. This should come at no cost to employees.
- Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.
All of these methods will better ensure that workers are kept safe when they are working in a potentially dangerous environment. As noted by OSHA, “workers have a right to a safe workplace.” As such, not only do laws also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees, but workers that feel as though there are major concerns at their workplace, or simply require further clarification on an issue can visit the OSHA website, utilize the online compliant form that is listed, or call 1-800-321-OSHA, and press 4.
It is important for both employees and employers alike to understand workers rights, employer responsibilities, and other services and mandates set by OSHA in order to ensure that the work environment is kept safer and workers are free from harm.
Other Baumgartner Law Firm articles about fall protection can be viewed at: