Workers and employers in Pennsylvania should know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published a final rule regarding walking and working surfaces for general industry as well as standards for personal fall protection systems. The rule pertains to many types of workers who are employed in jobs where slips, falls or trips may cause a serious injury or death.
The newly published rule uses industry best practices, national consensus standards and technological advances to provide worker protection that is efficient and cost-effective. General industry standards regarding trip, slip and fall dangers have been updated, and a new section detailing requirements for personal fall protection systems has been added.
OSHA estimates that the implementation of the rule will be able to prevent 5,842 injuries requiring lost workdays and 29 deaths from occurring each year. Many of the provisions of the rule will become effective on Jan. 1, 2017.
The rule is expected to benefit employers by allowing them more leeway in choosing a fall protection system. It has eliminated the current requirement of guardrail use and a primary fall protection method while permitting the employers to use the approved fall protection systems that may be most appropriate for their particular workplaces. It also enhances the uniformity between construction and general industry.
Additional features of the rule include requirements for fall protection in certain situations, such as runways and wall openings. There are also regulations regarding the use, performance, maintenance and inspection of personal fall protection systems.
An attorney who practices personal injury law may advocate on behalf of a client who has been injured in the workplace due to the failure of an employer to maintain a safe working place. The lawyer may work to obtain compensation that can be used for medical expenses and to recoup lost wages.