The United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is tasked with helping to reduce the risk of injuries in the workplace. This federal agency sets forth a number of regulations that are designed to help better ensure our workplace is safe, but not every employer follows the rules.
In an effort to help encourage compliance, the federal agency often conducts inspections. During these inspections a failure to follow the regulations is listed as a violation. Of the many violations noted by OSHA, the most common on the most recent top ten list of violations involves fall protection.
What is fall protection? Fall protection basically refers to keeping workers safe from falling from a height. This translates to the requirement that employers provide a work environment with a sturdy and structurally sound floor as well as additional protections to reduce the risk of falls in certain environments.
What kind of extra protections are required? The protections required will vary depending on the details of the work environment. Guardrails, personal fall arrest systems or a cover, for example, are generally required if employers are expected to work in an area with holes that are over 6 feet above lower levels.
Does this only apply at construction sites? Although this specific set of standards likely evokes mental images of construction sites, the regulations apply to most work environments.
Employers are generally required to provide similar protection to their employees if a fall danger exists as an office building, school, hospital, department store or any other place of employment.
What if I am injured while working? Employers are generally required to carry workers' compensation insurance. This is supposed to provide benefits to workers who are injured while on-the-job. Unfortunately, not all valid claims for compensation through this system are approved.
It is wise to seek legal counsel if you were injured while working and your claim for workers' comp benefits was denied. An attorney can review your accident and help better ensure you receive your workers' comp benefits.