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Proposed federal workplace fall protection system rule withdrawn

Many Georgia employees spend their days in workplaces where trips, slips and falls are a frequent hazard. This can be because of wet, slippery floors, an abundance of equipment and perhaps loose flooring or carpet that one can trip over. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, trips, slips and falls are among the most frequent causes of injuries and fatalities suffered in the workplace.

As many of us know, the wheels of the federal bureaucracy turn slowly, and sometimes, they grind to a complete halt. Such seems to be the case with something called the Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems rule. Back in 1990, OSHA proposed the rule in order to provide requirements to employers for fall protection systems to help increase worker safety.

Back in 2003, OSHA said that the rule, which had still not been implemented, no longer reflects the changes in technology or industry practices made since 1990. It was another seven years before OSHA published a new proposal that incorporated those changes. Hearings on the rule were held the following year, in 2011.

Now OSHA has reportedly withdrawn it. The precise reason isn't known. There's been speculation that the Office of Management and Budget is behind the withdrawal. Whether the OMB is redirecting money and personnel to deal with other regulations or simply asking OSHA to make further changes is unknown.

Obviously, the lack of such a rule can make things more difficult for employees who live with these hazards every day, with potentially no penalties for employers who allow these hazards to remain. However, after an accident, employers also wouldn't be able to show that they were in compliance with a rule that doesn't exist.

Of course, it may still be possible to take legal action against an employer that allows a preventable hazard if you or a loved one has been injured or worse. Workers' compensation laws still apply. It may be worthwhile to seek experienced legal guidance before you accept any kind of settlement or payments.

Source: Safety.BLR.com, "OSHA pulls rug out from under slip and trip rule," Jan. 15, 2016

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