OHSA Focuses on Fall Hazards

Aug 21, 2014 | WC & Other Laws

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) is the federal agency tasked to oversee whether or not employers comply with the federal rules and regulations governing workplace safety. The said agency is mostly responsible for the creation and maintenance of work sites for the benefit of not only the employees, but also the employers.

In recent times, the OSHA has been particularly interested in work which involves “fall hazards” or climbing in high areas, such as tree trimming, and exposure to isocyanates found in polyurethane products. These “fall hazards” are illustrated by a recent incident wherein two construction workers fell 140 feet to their deaths while working in their construction site. Ongoing investigations aim to determine what caused the incident, and why safety measures, if any, failed them.  On the other hand, the said isocyanates found in polyurethane products are used frequently in auto body shops, and are said to be responsible for respiratory ailments, like asthmatic attacks and respiratory tract irritation, if not properly controlled. OHSA seeks to make work sites safer and casualty-free, which should benefit the employers if they follow OHSA regulations because they wouldn’t have to suffer work stoppages, pay worker’ compensation, or worry about potential lawsuits against them.

OSHA specialist Brian Bothast was reported to have spoken to 30 safety and health professionals during the Eastern Illinois Safety Network meeting, addressing the issue on “fall hazards” and reminding them that ladders should be inspected before use. He added that ladders need to be secured to the structure it is leaning against and should be strictly placed in a “1-to-4 angle” as anything steeper than that is considered hazardous. A “1-to-4 angle” means that the height should not be more than four times the distance between the ladder’s base and the structure where the ladder is leaning against. He likewise said that ladders should extend to at least 3 feet beyond the point they are resting against in order for people to easily get back on them. Though his reminders sound simple, these things to remember could be the difference in worker and work site safety.

In case of tree trimming, there are three additional things needed to avoid any accidents. These are: (1) avoiding power lines during the process of trimming; (2) being aware of dangers of wood chippers, falling debris, chainsaw hazard, and lift equipment; and (3) placing of proper traffic controls in instances where trees trimmed are within 15 feet from a road.

Bothast also addressed the dangers of working in auto body shops which exposes people to isocyanates, which can irritate the respiratory tract and eyes and even trigger asthmatic-type reactions. If a worker displays symptoms such as loss of consciousness, loss of coordination, irrational behaviour, or confusion, it must immediately be reported as an emergency to 911.

In addition to this, employers are expected to have a medical plan for their employees exposed in risky work conditions. Bothast also reminded employers that they should train their employees on the new labels for hazardous chemicals developed by OSHA. These reminders go hand in hand with OHSA rules and regulations in order to avoid, or at least greatly minimize, incidents that would resemble the fate of the two workers who fell while working in their construction site.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of an occupational hazard such as falling from heights and exposure to hazardous chemicals, call Kaplan Morell at 303-780-7329 or click HERE to arrange for your FREE CONSULTATION. You have a right to a healthy and safe work environment and a violation of such enables you to claim liability against responsible parties. Allow us to help you preserve your right!