In an attempt to further reduce injuries caused by slips, trips and falls, the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) announced a final rule regarding industry regulations for Walking-Working Surfaces standards. According to the department, slips, trips and falls "cause 15 percent of all accidental deaths, and second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities." The new standards are designed to mitigate risks present in various workplaces, excepting agricultural and construction sites.
Attorneys representing clients injured at work may benefit from learning the requirements and deadlines attached to these new guidelines:
The new standards influence the slip, trip and fall requirements in subpart D of the code. Previous to this update, employers were required to provide guardrails, covers or scaffolding to protect employees from falling.
The updated requirements give employers a choice in how they ensure employee safety. In reviewing lowered injury rates reported by those in the construction industry after safety adaptations were implemented in 1994, OSHA determined that allowing for flexibility in safety measures could benefit workers in other industries.
New requirements have been added for updating personal fall protection systems on the worksite, banning body belts as a protection device and allowing the use of rope descent systems. Training on the new systems is also required.
2. Industries required to comply
As employers in construction were required to update their safety practices, laborers working in this field will not see changes to the safety code at their worksite. Those working at warehouses and in general industry sites will notice updates to fall protection systems.
While many of the requirements outlined in the final rule are to be implemented by Jan. 17, 2017, other aspects of the new safety standards will not be required until months after the initial deadline. Employers have more time to train their employees on fall hazards, inspect anchor devices and install fall arrest mechanisms to ensure best practices for employing these safety measures.
The agency predicts that, as a result of the implementation of these new guidelines, 29 fatalities will be averted and 5,842 injuries will be prevented annually.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are required to maintain a safe worksite. Those failing to limit the hazards associated with slips, trips and falls can be fined for ignoring OSHA guidelines.
Attorneys representing workers who have suffered injuries sustained by slipping, tripping or falling at work may have cause to bring a case to court. In certain situations, it may be helpful to obtain aid from co-counsel to tackle complex workplace injury claims.