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OSHA rule on falls questioned due to fall safety provision

Oklahoma workers may be aware that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration updated its rule to help prevent workplace falls. The final rule became effective on Jan.17, 2017. However, one of the key provisions is being questioned as OSHA now allows people to work near the edge of low-slope roofs without proper fall protection as long as the work is infrequent and temporary.

Conventional fall safety systems include a number of equipment that can help prevent potentially fatal falls. This equipment includes a personal fall safety arrest system, a guardrail or a travel restraint system. However, the personal fall safety arrest systems are not required under the OSHA rule if the work is being done 6 to 15 feet from the edge of low-sloped roofs. These designated areas may only be used for work that is temporary or infrequent. The example given by OSHA is annual maintenance or equipment repairs.

At a conference at the American Society of Safety Engineers, there were questions as to what type of work qualifies as "temporary" or "relatively infrequent". OSHA noted that the term "infrequent" was meant to mean work that was performed only as needed or only on occasion. This did not include jobs that needed to be performed regularly during the work shift.

On-the-job injuries from falls can prevent employees from being able to return to work for a lengthy period of time, during which they have are incurring steep medical expenses. Most employers are required to have workers' compensation insurance coverage, and those who have been injured in such a fashion might find it advisable to have legal assistance when preparing and submitting a claim for benefits thereunder.

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