A safety outreach program at residential construction sites, created by a federal oversight agency, has been extended for several months in an effort to reduce construction accidents in Atlanta and across the country.
According to a release from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (or OSHA), the agency had dedicated a large number of resources to preventing falls within the residential construction industry.
As our Atlanta workers compensation attorneys understand, construction site falls are among the leading causes of work-related injuries in Georgia and throughout the U.S.
That's why in September of last year, OSHA pumped up its enforcement efforts regarding fall hazards on construction sites, particularly residential projects, such as houses, condos and nursing homes.
Essentially, what it meant for a number of construction companies was that the agency would provide free assistance on-site to help each employer make sure it was meeting OSHA's updated standards.
It also offered a reduction on fines and penalties if the company was making a good faith effort to update its safety policies and conditions. In fact, companies were specifically given 30 days to fix fall hazards. If there was a serious injury or fatality that happened during those 30 days, the company wouldn't be off the hook, but the whole idea was to give companies time to come into compliance, and ultimately keep workers safer in the long run.
The effort also implemented certain guidelines that would make it easier for companies to be more consistent in matters of safety, and particularly in preventing fall hazards.
This increased enforcement effort was intended to run through the middle of March. Now, OSHA says they are extending the efforts through the middle of September - so the program will run for a year total.
Within the last several months, OSHA said it has held more than 1,000 outreach session across the country, with the goal of helping employers comply with more stringent safety rules.
OSHA has a long list of rules that dictate what measures a construction company has to take in order to keep its workers safe from a fall. Those include the requirement that for any worker who is engaging in work more than 15 feet off the ground has to be protected by a guardrail, safety net or some other fall restraint device. For construction workers who are doing their job on multi-story buildings, there must be safety cables installed around the interior and exteriors of the floors, as soon as metal decking has been laid down. Plus, employees working with connectors (which they should be if the structure is more than two stories high), need to be trained in how to use them.
Training for employees is also key in preventing construction falls in Atlanta. Employers are required to organize the training for their workers. That training has to cover the following areas:
1. Identifying fall hazards.
2. Using guardrail systems.
3. The correct way to put up, maintain and inspect all fall protection systems.
4. Procedures to prevent lower-level falls.
5. Proper safety gear.