Fatal accidents and injuries often happen at construction sites. Workers often fall from working surfaces such as roofs and other elevated work surfaces and platforms and sustain catastrophic injuries. One would think that with OSHA’s regulations and requirement for fall protection, the number of falls, injuries and deaths would be decreasing in one of the most dangerous industries. In fact, OSHA reported that falls actually increased in the last several years. This is because many fall protection systems are not properly installed or because workers are not properly trained on using the fall protection system correctly. To ensure that these accidents do not happen, it is critical that employers follow the Fall Protection Regulations Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set out to protect construction workers from falling from a walking or working surface greater than 6 feet.
Under OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926.501-503, fall systems can be generally provided through the following:
1. Guardrail systems;
2. Safety net systems;
3. Personal fall arrest systems;
4. Positioning device systems; and/or
5. Warning line systems.
The Guardrail Systems consist of a top rail located 42 inches above the floor. A mid rail also needs to be installed mid-way between the top rail and the floor. The bottom board or also known as the toe board must be 3 ½ inches high. Screens and mesh may be used to replace the mid-rail as long as they extend from the top rail to the floor.
Personal Fall Arrest Systems consist of body harness, lanyard, lifeline, connector, and an anchorage point capable of supporting at least 5000 pounds. The system needs to be inspected before each use.
Positioning Device Systems consist of a body harness which allows someone to work on a vertical surface such as a wall, with both hands free.
Safety Monitoring by a Competent Person consists of a trained person monitoring others as they work on an elevated surface and warn them of any fall hazard.
Warning Line Systems consist of line or ropes installed around the work area on the roof and this is only allowed on low pitched roofs. The lines or ropes act as a barrier to prevent those working on the roof from approaching the edges and must be on all sides and not less than 6 feet from the edge of the roof. It also must be used in conjunction with another fall protection system, typically the safety monitoring system.
Putting an OSHA compliant fall protection system in place at the jobsite is critical to reducing the risk of injury. Often times, worksites have fall protection, but they are often substandard, inadequate and do not provide a safe jobsite. As a result, workers fall and injure themselves. Employers may say there is fall protection system in place, but that’s not the end of the story. The fall protection system may be out of date or not properly installed. Even worse, workers are not properly trained to use the fall protection system despite the fact that there is one. Just because an employer has a fall protection system does not mean it is not at fault for a worker’s fall and injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured at a construction site, contact the White and Williams team, experienced construction accident and personal injury lawyers for a free consultation. 1-877-944-8396. We serve all accident victims in the states of PA and NJ.