OSHA Updates Walking and Working Surface Regulations to Help Prevent Fall Accidents and On the Job Injuries in Missouri and Elsewhere

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is going to make some changes to their rules and regulations to help prevent work accidents. This change was first announced in the Federal Register back in May. The changes will require employers to enlist improved protection on their work sites to help to prevent trips, slips and falls by eliminating potential hazards on walking and working surfaces.

After a public comment period, there will be a public hearing held on these revised changes. These changes are being made in an attempt to reduce the numbers of serious -- and fatal -- fall work accidents in Missouri and elsewhere throughout the country.
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"This proposal addresses workplace hazards that are a leading cause of work related injuries and deaths," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.

Our Missouri worker's compensation attorneys understand that new rules and regulations will continue to address concerns as technology and demands in these industries continue to advance. It is important for all employers to be up-to-date with the latest safety recommendations to help to prevent work injuries, to save the lives of their workers and to possibly avoid any costly fines or citations from OSHA.

The notice of proposed rulemaking describes the revisions that will be made to the Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment standards. These standards have been set into place by OSHA to help prevent fall injuries. It is estimated that 20 workplace fatalities occur each year from falls on work surfaces. It is also estimated that more than 3,500 fall accidents cause injuries serious enough to cause a worker to miss days at work.

"This is a clear and grave example of the human cost incurred when fall protection safeguards are absent, ignored or inadequate," said Michaels. "The loss of a worker's life might have been prevented if the protective measures in these revised standards had been in place and in use."

According to the most recent walking-working surfaces regulations, employers are to eliminate outdated and dangerous fall protection equipment. This type of equipment includes lanyards and body belts. These protection devices can result in workers suffering even worse injury from falls. So far, construction and maritime workers already have safer, more effective fall protection devices. They are required to already use self-retracting lanyards and ladder safety and rope descent systems. The updates in OSHA rules would require that these proposed revisions be mandatory for general industry workers as well.

OSHA is not able to fine employers who allow their workers to climb certain ladders without fall protection under the current walking-working surfaces standards. With these new rules and regulations set forth, this restriction would no longer apply to any industry and OSHA would be able to issue citation to employers who lack this fall protection and to those who are jeopardizing their worker's safety. Climbing these ladders without the proper fall protection can produce serious injuries or even deadly consequences.