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Georgia Residential Construction: Fall Protection Critical

With a rebounding housing industry comes renewed risks for residential construction accidents in Georgia.
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With that in mind, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration is extending its temporary enforcement measures through Dec. 15.

Our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys understand the risks are highest in the autumn, as builders work to get structures under roof before winter weather. The enforcement focus had been slated to end this month. Efforts began in October 2011, when OSHA began working with employers in complying with the new directive. More than 2,500 site visits have been conducted, along with nearly 1,000 training sessions and 500 presentations.

Written site plans must be created in cases where other safety measure are deemed unfeasible and employers must note the agency does not consider “economic infeasibility” a valid basis for failing to provide fall protection.

Particular emphasis is placed on fall protection. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal fall accidents in private construction have been reduced by 42 percent since 2007. However, it was still a leading cause of death, claiming 635 lives in 2010.

It’s the second time OSHA has issued a six-month extension of enforcement efforts.

OSHA estimates the average fall from height by a roofer costs $106,000. Safety regulations mandate that anyone working at a height of 6 feet or higher must be protected by a guardrail system, a safety net or a personal fall arrest system. Rules also provide for the use of controlled access zones and control lines, covers, positioning devices, barricades and fences.

“We cannot tolerate workers getting killed in residential construction when effective means are readily available to prevent those deaths, said OSHA Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels.

Additionally, under 20CRF 1926.503, workers exposed to fall hazards must be trained in proper safety procedures. An employer is also required to keep on file documentation of such training and must provide retraining when changing fall-protection systems or when an employee’s demonstrated competency indicates retraining is necessary.

Personal Fall Arrest System:
Must be a full-body harness that has a D-ring in the center of the upper back. Must fit properly and be compatible with other equipment. Lanyards or snaphooks must be of the locking variety and must not be hook together unless specifically designed to do so.

Fall Restraint System: Can be a body harness or belt. Must not permit a worker to go past an unprotected edge, regardless of where he is working on the surface.

Guardrail Systems: Must be of certain height and quality.

Safety-Net Systems: No more than 30-feet below work area. Must be drop-tested and certified and must have sufficient clearance.

CNN Money recently reported an increase in housing prices and building permits indicates the housing market is finally beginning to recover. Properly training workers and providing the necessary safety equipment will be critical in reducing the number of serious and fatal construction accidents in Atlanta and throughout the nation.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., to speak with an experienced attorney. For a free consultation call 1-404-303-7770 today.

More Blog Entries:
Happy Labor Day from our Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, Aug. 30, 2012, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyers’ Blog