DOL Launches National Fall Prevention Program
The U.S. Department of Labor is taking new workplace fall prevention measures by implementing a National Emphasis Program.
Fall-related protections are consistently one of the top OSHA violations.
There were 5,260 violations for failing to comply with general fall protection requirements in 2022 according to the latest report.
Hazard communication citations were a distant second with 2,424 violations.
The emphasis program focuses on reducing fall-related injuries and fatalities for people working at heights in all industries.
OSHA intends to utilize a combination of enforcement, employer outreach, and compliance assistance as part of the program.
Employers should note that enforcement efforts will include hazard-based inspection targeting.
OSHA encourages employers to keep the following in mind when protecting against falls:
- Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
- Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
- Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
- Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and handrails.
Each area office and regional office must also develop and implement a comprehensive fall prevention awareness outreach program for 90 days prior to initiating inspections.
Area offices and regions will then continue with at least quarterly outreach efforts.
OSHA Hartford-area director Dale Varney said fall hazards are present at most worksites, meaning many workers are exposed to these hazards on a daily basis.
“Falls from heights continue to be the leading cause of fatalities in construction, while falls on the same level, such as slips and trips, are one of the leading causes of injuries,” Varney said.
“With these statistics in mind, OSHA continues to place a big emphasis on the need to protect workers from these fall hazards through enforcement inspections and outreach activities.”
He said OSHA is looking to educate employers about how falls can be avoided.
OSHA posted a number of resources for employers during National Safety Stand-Down week at the start of May.
“OSHA continues to search for opportunities to spread the message that falls kill and injure, they can be easily avoided, and that eliminating these hazards before they become an accident has immeasurable value to all involved in the workplace,” Varney said.
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