OSHA was developed in order to protect workers from unnecessary injury on the job and one of the most important areas of concern is fall protection.
Falling from heights is one of the most common ways a serious injury takes place or a worker is killed. Under OSHA guidelines, employers must structure of the workplace under the rules to prevent employees and others from falling off elevated worksites, overhead platforms and even holes in the floor.
Recently, a worker was killed in Houston, Texas when he fell off an elevated platform on the tram track that runs between terminals. While the initial report was provided by chron.com, and no details are forthcoming regarding the specific cause, there is no doubt that had OSHA rules been followed the death would have been avoided.
Our hearts go out to the family.
Under the applicable rules, OSHA requires specific fall protection when working at heights of 4 feet in general industry workplaces, 5 feet and shipyards, and 6 feet in the construction industry while allowing up to 8 feet in long showing operations.
Additionally, the regulations require that fall protection be provided for workers when working over equipment that may be dangerous regardless of the fall distance.
Specific safety aids for preventing falls include:
- Guardrails around elevator door open sided platforms
- Toe boards under certain circumstances
- Safety harness and tie line, nets or railings inappropriate situations.
Employers must ensure that working conditions are free of known dangers, as well as keep the floors and workers clean and dry as much as possible.
Additionally, the employer has an obligation to train workers about on-the-job hazards including fall protection. It is the training function that serves to prevent most accidents. Most of the well-known companies involved in the construction or maintenance industry take their worker safety very seriously and have very rigorous training requirements.
To learn more about fall protection and requirements that apply to both workers and employers, please see the following webpage on OSHA.gov: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/