OSHA’s Slip n’ Fall Guidelines – Did You Know About Them?
July 8, 2017
Last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a new set of guidelines on workplace safety, specifically targeting slips and falls along with other common causes of injury. OSHA believes that the new safety standards could help prevent up to 5,000 workplace injuries every year. The only problem is, data shows that most companies and firms do not know about OSHA’s new guidelines, so they are not adequately protecting workers.
OSHA’s new rules require “general industry” businesses, like offices and retailers, to have more stringent safety requirements, similar to those that the construction industry uses. OSHA has mandated that employers assess their business for workplace hazards and also conduct regular inspections to ensure that safety standards are being met.
Certain risks and workplace hazards are found to contribute to the most falls. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that misused fall protection, unprotected edges, unsafely positioned ladders, floor holes and wall openings as well as slippery, cluttered or unstable walking and working surfaces can create the most unsafe work conditions.
The new safety guidelines are important for general industry businesses because in previous years they were only required to install guardrails in certain locations to protect workers from falls. Now, OSHA requires them to provide fall protection to 15 new work areas. OSHA estimates that nearly 115 million workers will be helped by its new standards.
Slips and falls in the workplace are extremely common injuries, accounting for the majority of those that occur on the job. According to OSHA, slips and falls also cause at least 15% of accidental deaths. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that same-level falls and falls to lower levels cause the second and third highest amount of workplace injuries each year.
Even though data shows that same-level falls are more common than falls to lower levels, elevated falls tend to cause the most damaging or fatal injuries to victims. The most common injuries that falls cause are fractures to the spine, forearm, hip, ankle, leg, hand, pelvis or upper arm. They often can also often result in head injuries and contusions.
Working to decrease workplace falls is extremely important because not only are people getting seriously hurt, but also they often miss substantial amounts of time from work after they are injured. This can result in financial hardship due to a loss of wages. OSHA estimates that injured employees tend to lose an average of 11 days of work.
NIOSH works to keep employees safe from workplace injuries as well. June is “Keep Each Other Safe” month, and targets preventing workplace falls through a downloadable ladder safety smart phone application and other resources. If you want to see all of NIOSH’s “Keep Each Other Safe” resources, please click here: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/falls/default.html.
NIOSH also cites the amount of workplace falls – which, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics were over 260,000 in 2014 alone –and nearly 800 of them were fatal. NIOSH estimates that falls cost the U.S. over $70 billion in medical costs and workers’ compensation each year.
If employers implement OSHA’s new safety guidelines responsibly, thousands of workers will be protected against injury and death. Although reports show that not enough businesses have yet recognized OSHA’s new standards, the launch of safety campaigns will hopefully work to increase awareness. Most of OSHA’s new rules were made official in January, so it is time for employers to make sure that their businesses are in compliance with federal regulations.
OSHA’s Slip n’ Fall Guidelines at Galfand Berger, LLP Protect Injured Workers
If you or a loved one has been injured in the workplace, we are happy to answer your questions and review your case for free. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading, and Lancaster, Galfand Berger serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation with one of our Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.