The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has initiated a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to prevent falls in the workplace, which OSHA states is the leading cause of workplace injuries and fatalities, ahead of violations of OSHA’s respiratory protection standard. Although most of the citations involving fall protection occur in the construction industry, the NEP applies to all industries.
OSHA regulations impose an obligation on employers to provide fall protection systems. OSHA requires that such protections be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyard employment, six feet in construction, and eight feet in longshoring. Such fall protection must be provided regardless of height for employees working over dangerous equipment. Fall protection systems comprise utilizing guardrails, safety nets, safe work practices, and appropriate training.
According to OSHA, this NEP establishes guidance for locating and inspecting fall hazards. Inspections may be opened whenever OSHA representatives observe anyone working at heights.
Murtha Cullina’s Labor and Employment Group is prepared to assist employers in addressing these issues and will continue to report on further activity involving this NEP.