OSHA Issues Final Rules on Slip, Trip and Fall Hazards

DWM Magazine | November 18, 2016

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration this week issued a final rule updating its general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standards specific to slip, trip, and fall hazards. The rule also includes a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standards that establishes employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems.

Falls are a major danger in the glazing and construction industries.

“The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “OSHA believes advances in technology and greater flexibility will reduce worker deaths and injuries from falls. The final rule also increases consistency between general and construction industries, which will help employers and workers that work in both industries.”

OSHA estimates the final standard will prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 injuries annually. The rule becomes effective on January 17, 2017, and will affect approximately 112 million workers at seven million worksites.

The final rule’s most significant update is allowing employers to select the fall protection system that works best for them, choosing from a range of accepted options including personal fall protection systems. OSHA has permitted the use of personal fall protection systems in construction since 1994 and the final rule adopts similar requirements for general industry. Other changes include allowing employers to use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level; prohibiting the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system; and requiring worker training on personal fall protection systems and fall equipment.

Fall Protection Trigger Height May Change in Oregon

The change from 10 to 6 feet would be effective Jan. 1, 2017. Also, slide guards could no longer be used as a primary fall protection system as of Oct. 1, 2017.

Oregon State’s OSHA is considering a change in the minimum height for general fall protection to 6 feet from 10 feet.  If this change is made it will go into effect January 1, 2017.

Another fall protection change may also include slide guards not being allowed to be the primary fall protection system.  This change would become effective on Oct. 1, 2017 if enacted.

Falls are consistently one of the leading causes of death in the construction industry.  These trigger heights would come into alignment with trigger heights of 6 feet that are currently enforced for holes, including skylights, wall openings, balconies, excavations, including unseen, around and over any excavation.

Contractor Not Liable for Death of Painter Who Fell Off Flat Roof

Bill Kenealy | Business Insurance | February 27, 2015

An Ohio appellate court judge has found that a painting contractor is not liable for the 2011 death of a worker even though the company was cited for safety violations in relation to the worker’s fatal fall.

In a ruling issued on Thursday, Judge Melody J. Stewart of the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga County, upheld a 2014 decision made by the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

Worker William Head was paralyzed in November 2011, after slipping from a flat roof approximately 11 feet above ground level while working for Cleveland Heights, Ohio-based Reilly Painting & Contracting Inc. Mr. Head later died from complications resulting from injuries suffered in the fall.

Sabrina Head, the executor of Mr. Head’s estate, subsequently filed an intentional tort action against Reilly Painting, Michael Reilly, the owner of Reilly Painting, and Peter Lukas, the job foreman, on grounds that they failed to provide Mr. Head with a safety harness in violation of U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration rules.

In statements made to OSHA investigators following the accident, the company admitted that contrary to OSHA regulations, which require workers to wear a safety harness for work performed over six feet off the ground, Mr. Head was not wearing a harness when he fell. Mr. Lukas, the foreman on the job, said although safety harnesses were available he did not believe they were necessary because the roof was flat and not pitched.

Upon completing its investigation, OSHA cited Reilly Painting for safety violations.

In her ruling, Judge Stewart agreed with the lower court that there was no evidence that the individual defendants knew that Mr. Head was “substantially certain” to be injured while working on the roof.

“We agree with the court that Reilly Painting’s OSHA violations do not, standing alone, create an issue of fact as to whether those violations were made with the specific intent to injure Head,” the ruling states. “The undisputed evidence showed that the job foreman considered it safe to work on a flat roof and that safety harnesses were unnecessary.”

via Contractor not liable for death of painter who fell off flat roof | Business Insurance.

OSHA Emphasis Program for Fall Hazards in Construction and General Industry

James L. Curtis and Craig B. Simonsen – December 5, 2013

In what appears to be part of OSHA’s ongoing campaign to prevent fall accidents and injuries, OSHA’s Region V announced earlier this year a Local Emphasis Program to address Fall Hazards in General Industry and Construction.

The Emphasis Programs provides the “basis for scheduling and conducting safety inspections of construction and general industry workplaces where fall hazards have been alleged and/or identified.” Additionally, “construction inspections may be expanded to comprehensive inspections of multi-employer sites in accordance with the guidelines established in the Field Operations Manual.”

According to the OSHA news release, “in 2010, more than 10,000 construction workers were injured as a result of falling while working from heights, and another 255 workers were killed.” The new Emphasis Program indicates that “accidents relating to falls from elevations are one of the leading causes of serious injuries and fatalities. In Region V, over a five year period (FY 2007 – FY 2011), there have been 147 fatalities resulting from falls from elevations. Of those, the most, 31, resulted from work on ladders.” The Emphasis Program allows Area Directors “the authority to upgrade non-formal complaints alleging serious fall hazards.” Also to be monitored closely will be the unsafe use of portable or fixed ladders.

The Emphasis Program is intended and designed to increase inspection and enforcement activity. The Agency also expects the program to provide incident tracking, enhance training and outreach, and a means of conducting enhanced outreach on ladder safety. As part of the outreach, OSHA has recently published a number of guides and videos, including “Falling Off Ladders Can Kill: Use Them Safely,” “Preventing Falls in Construction,” and “Prevention Videos (v-Tools) – Construction Hazards.”

While this Emphasis Program is currently restricted to OSHA’s Region V, OSHA’s broader Fall Prevention Campaign is not so limited. Industries across the country in this targeted group should take note of this. If your business, whether in general industry or construction, involves potential fall hazards and the use of portable or fixed ladders, then now would be a good time to consider whether your processes, policies, and training programs would pass an OSHA inspection.

via OSHA emphasis program for fall hazards in construction and general industry – Lexology.

OSHA Releases 2013 Top 10 Most Cited Standards

Lindsay A. Smith – November 4, 2013

Last month, OSHA unveiled its List of the 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for fiscal year (“FY”) 2013 (i.e., October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013).  The announcement came at the 2013 National Safety Council Congress and Expo.

Here is the full list for FY 2013:

1926.501 – Fall Protection (cited 8,241 times during FY 2013)

1910.1200 – Hazard Communication (cited 6,156 times during FY 2013)

1926.451 – Scaffolding (cited 5,423 times during FY 2013)

1910.134 – Respiratory Protection (cited 3,879 times during FY 2013)

1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods (cited 3,452 times during FY 2013)

1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks (cited 3,340 times during FY 2013)

1926.1053 – Ladders (cited 3,311 times during FY 2013)

1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout (cited 3,254 times during FY 2013)

1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements (cited 2,745times in FY 2013)

1910.212 – Machine Guarding (cited 2,701 times during FY 2013)

Not surprisingly, Fall Protection remains the most cited standard again.  Of note is the fact that 3 out of the 10 top cited standards relate directly to the Construction Industry, namely Fall Protection, Scaffolding, and Ladders.

Comparing this year’s list to OSHA’s List of Top 10 Most Cited Standards for FY 2012, the top four violations remained the same in exactly the same order.  The remaining violations are consistent with the prior years but arranged in a different order.  For purposes of comparison and evaluating trends, here is OSHA’s Top 10 List for FY 2012:

1926.501 – Fall Protection (cited 7,250 times during FY 2012)

1910.1200 – Hazard Communication (cited 4,696 times during FY 2012)

1926.451 – Scaffolding (cited 3,814 times during FY 2012)

1910.134 – Respiratory Protection (cited 2,371 times during FY 2012)

1926.1053 – Ladders (cited 2,310 times during FY 2012)

1910.212 – Machine Guarding (cited 2,097 times during FY 2012)

1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks (cited 1,993 times during FY 2012)

1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods (cited 1,744 times during FY 2012)

1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout (cited 1,572 times during FY 2012)

1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements (cited 1,332 times during FY 2012)

This entire list has actually remained largely unchanged since FY 2011, with only minor differences in the order of the 10 standards provided.

The most significant change from FY 2012 to this year has been the number of gross violations for the standards on the list.  In FY 2013, Fall Protection violations were found 8,241 times, up from 7,250 violations in FY 2012 for the same standard; a difference of almost 1,000 more citations in only one year.  The 10th most frequently cited standard on the FY 2013 List (i.e., Machine Guarding) was cited 1,369 more times than the 10th most cited standard in FY 2012.

To get a sense of how many more citations OSHA is issuing now, the 10th most frequently cited standard this year was cited more times than the fourth most cited standard in FY 2012.  This pattern demonstrates that OSHA enforcement efforts have continued to rise during the current administration at a significant rate, even from year to year.

via OSHA Releases 2013 Top 10 Most Cited Standards | OSHA Law Update.