by Loren E. Laskoski, Esq.
According to OSHA, falls are the leading cause of death on construction sites. In 2010 there were 774 construction site related fatalities with 264, roughly one-third, of these resulting from falls. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and hazard free workplaces. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (“OSHA”) is charged with ensuring compliance with the Act. OSHA acknowledges that protecting workers from falls is a priority and has enacted regulations requiring fall protection.
Under OSHA’s regulations adequate fall protection is generally required when performing work at heights greater than 6 feet. Fall protection can be in the form of harnesses and lanyards, guardrails, and/or safety nets. When performing work on a roof, for example, employers should provide their workers with harnesses that allow them to tie-off to a life line. All holes and openings should have guard rails and edges should also be properly guarded. When using ladders, workers are required to maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times. Work from scaffolding is slightly different, in that protection is required when working at greater than 10 feet.
The six foot rule does not apply to steel erection. Given the especially dangerous nature of steel erection work, Subpart R of the OSHA regulations governing construction specifically addresses fall protection for the workers engaged in such activities.
More information on OSHA’s fall protection initiative can be found at: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/index.html
Under OSHA regulations, general contractors are also responsible for overseeing the work on their jobs. Thus, it is not only the employer’s responsibility to provide for adequate fall protection, but the general contractor is responsible to ensure that all work on its job is in accordance with OSHA.
The attorneys at Keches Law Group are experienced in handling construction site accident cases and cases where injuries occurred as a result of inadequate fall protection. If you have been injured in a fall, contact Keches Law Group for a free consultation.