The fall protection rule in Massachusetts aims to keep employees who are at risk for falls in the workplace safe from harm. OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), requires that all people employed at a company who’s job puts them in jeopardy of falling must complete OSHA certified training to reduce the risks of falls while at work. When workers are not trained properly, accidents will occur.
Falling From Heights Is a Main Cause of Industrial Fatalities and Injuries
In Massachusetts, fatal falls, slips and trips were up ten percent in 2014 from the previous year. 647 workers were killed in a fall at work from one height to a lower height, making falling one of the top reasons for fatalities in the work environment. While there are any number of reasons behind why an employee falls at work, a lack of training or a lack of following proper safety procedures is often cited as the reason for the fall. Accidents in the work place can happen, but many of these accidents can be reduced in their severity if the proper precautions are put into place.
Fall Protection Precautions Available to Employers in Massachusetts
- well-appointed guard rails to delineate dangerous ledges.
- safety net systems that can withstand the impact of an employee, preventing significant injuries from occurring.
- travel restraint systems, which are used to stop an employee from traveling too close to a ledge.
- personal fall arrest systems that will prevent an employee from falling should they slip.
When properly trained in fall protection precautions, employees understand that guard rails are there for their own protection. Whenever the use of travel restraint systems or personal fall arrest systems are required, employees who do not follow this standard can be subject to severe penalties, up to and including getting fired. Employers must make it clear that these systems are in place for the protection of the employees, and any deviation from these standards must have consequences.
Equipment Failure that Doesn’t Protect the Employee
If a travel restraint system or personal fall arrest system is not used properly, the system can fail. When an employee gets injured because of faulty equipment, liability can become complicated. For employees who are using the equipment as they have been trained to do, getting injured at work can become a complex mess of litigation. When the equipment isn’t working properly, both the manufacturer of the equipment and the employer may be liable for the injuries sustained. Employers have the obligation to test equipment to make sure that it is in good working order. When an employee gets hurt because the safety equipment being used is old or broken, the employer will be liable for the injuries sustained.
Employee Training and Vigilance is Essential
While all employees must be trained regarding OSHA safety standards and falls within the work place, they should also be trained to be vigilant about any possible hazards within the work environment. Whether working in an industrial setting or a construction zone, employees should be on the lookout for potential hazards to other employees. Falls can be prevented, if everyone is watching out for each other. While accidents in the work place are inevitable, the number of accidents can be reduced when employees all feel a sense of responsibility to keep the work environment safe.
OSHA’s goal is to provide a safe working environment for all employees within a company. While the safety standards may appear over the top, it’s important to remember that the safety standards have been developed over a period of time by qualified people who have studied work place safety and understand the needs of workers in a variety of environments. With the standards in place, and staff properly trained regarding fall prevention procedures, the work environment will be safer for everyone involved.
Contact Boston Attorney John Sheehan with Additional Questions
If you have more questions about the Fall Protection Rule, or any other personal injury or workers compensation claims, contact attorney John J. Sheehan.
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