A new compliance assistance tool recently published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will help employers prevent fall-related deaths and injuries among residential construction workers.
Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers in Greensboro know that falls are the leading cause of construction workers’ deaths. Raising workplace safety awareness is a good way of reducing North Carolina work-related injuries.
OSHA uses many formats to offer assistance and information to the residential construction industry. Previously, OSHA had an interim directive that let residential builders bypass fall protection requirements, but late last year that interim directive was withdrawn. Starting June 16, residential construction employers will comply with the same standard other construction employers use.
“We cannot tolerate workers getting killed in residential construction when effective means are readily available to prevent those deaths. Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace deaths in construction,” says Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA.
The new directives state that all employers have to protect their workers in residential construction 6 feet or higher. These systems include safety nets, guardrail systems or personal fall arrest systems. Other fall protection is allowed under special circumstance where conventional methods can’t be used.
Employers are required to train their workers on how to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions. Fall protection training must include how to minimize and recognize fall hazards, the proper way to use fall protection systems and how to inspect fall protection systems. All training must be documented and kept up to date. There also needs to be a plan in place for retraining employees.
The three types of conventional fall arrest systems include:
-Guardrail systems, also known as “passive fall protection.” This means no action by the employee is necessary for it to work. Toe boards are also required if there is potential for objects to fall on workers below.
-Safety nets are not frequently used in residential construction but they are also a “passive fall protection” system. When they are in position, the workers don’t have to do anything with the system to be safe. Maintenance, installation and adjustments of the nets should only be done by trained people. If safety nets are used, they have to be positioned as close as possible under the working surface of the employees. They need to have sufficient clearance under them to prevent contacting the surface below. And they need to be drop tested or certified.
-A Personal Fall Arrest System has three main components: the anchorage point must be able to support at least 5,000 pounds per worker attached, the body harness will distribute the force throughout the torso during a fall and lanyards must have a breaking point of more than 5,000 pounds or connectors should be locking type snap hooks.
The slide presentation can be found on OSHA’s Residential Fall Protection website.
If you are dealing with a work accident in North Carolina or a workers’ compensation or disability claim, contact the Lee Law Offices, P.A. today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-887-1965.
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Construction Season Increases Risk of North Carolina Work Accidents, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, April 21, 2011
Carolina Work Accident Injures Construction Workers when Church Roof Collapses, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, April 3, 2011