Occupational Safety and Health Administration Fall Protection Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency that is assigned the duty of enforcing safety and health legislation in the workplace. One of the most significant hazards of construction work is the exposure to falls. Particularly in the construction industry where scaffolds, steel erection and simply working above ground are the norm, OSHA has provided regulations for the general industry and the construction industry particularly.

For example, in the general industry, a subpart 1910 paragraph (c)(1) provides for guarding floor, wall openings and holes. This provision would include protection against falling off of an open-sided floor, platform or runway. The subparagraph (c)(1) states that “every open-sided floor or platform 4-feet or more above an adjacent floor or ground level shall be guarded by a standard railing . . .” This general industry guideline focuses on workers in warehouses, manufacturing and industrial workplaces.

In addition to the duty to have fall protection in the general industry area, OSHA also sets out in another subparagraph (d)(1) that an employee on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet or more above a lower level “now shall be protected from falling by use of guardrail systems, safety net systems or personal fall rest systems.” Personal fall rest systems are meant to include harnesses, support systems, ropes and pulleys to prevent workers from striking the ground from that height.

In the construction industry, there is a different part that covers scaffolds and steel erection workers. Naturally, in the cases of construction, the height of some of the workplaces is much higher. By example, subpart L, dealing with scaffolds, 1926.451(g)(1) states that: “Each employee on a scaffold more than 10 feet above a lower level shall be protected from falling to that lower level.” The height of 10 feet coincides with the ANSI A10.8-1969C section for scaffolding where it had already established the threshold height for fall protection at 10 feet. OSHA just conformed the maximum unprotected fall distance for scaffolds from 6 feet and increased it to 10 to conform to the ANSI guidelines.

As far as steel erection workers, OSHA provides that “each worker engaged in a steel erection activity who is on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge more than 15 feet above a lower level, shall be protected from fall hazards . . .” Subpart R 1926.760(a)(1). Naturally, there are subsections dealing with heights that are measured in stories of buildings and feet of 30 or more. Workers in steel erection work at great heights.

The emphasis on OSHA’s requirements as to those working at heights in general industry or in the construction industry is safety protection. In addition, training requirements require fall protection, training for all employees on construction sites and steel erection work.

Rules and regulations imposed by either OSHA or ANSI standards are vitally important but the training of workers is tantamount to protecting each of them from the hazards of their jobs. If workers are correctly trained in safety methods whether they work at great heights or not, serious injuries at the worksite can be prevented.

In one of our recent cases, we represented a construction worker who was installing roofing supports to a new structure. He was standing on a ladder extension that was made available to him by the general contractor. The ladder, although not the cause of his serious injuries, was put in place without a safety harness or other fall protection equipment that was necessary for this job. The client fell from his position to ground suffering permanent leg injuries that required surgeries and long-term rehabilitation and therapy. The fall should have been prevented if the correct fall protection equipment were in place that complied with both OSHA and ANSI safety requirements.

If you or someone you love has been injured on a worksite either in construction or in general industry where an OSHA regulation may have been violated, you may have the right to bring an injury claim. Please call Chicago injury lawyer Robert Kreisman 24 hours a day at 312.346.0045 or toll free 800.583.8002 for a free and immediate consultation, or fill out our contact form online.

Client Reviews
“We were devastated when our 31 year-old son was killed by a negligent driver. Kreisman Law Offices did everything to help us through this very difficult time, including coming out to the house several times which was a comfort. My wife and I were extremely pleased with Mr. Kreisman’s compassion and care for this very tragic and troubling time.” C.B.
“Bob Kreisman did everything possible in handling the trial of this case. It was devastating that I traumatically lost my leg above the knee in this truck accident. However, it was not an easy case to win. His staff was so prepared for the trial that it was not surprising that the settlement offers continued to rise until we finally accepted the multi-million settlement while the jury was still deciding the case. My wife and I were delighted that we could secure our future with this settlement. We thank Mr. Kreisman and his incredible staff for working so hard for our benefit.” T.P.
“My mother died because doctors dropped the ball. I called Robert Kreisman and he immediately set up an appointment for my entire family. We met at his offices and I was very comfortable that he would do the best for my dad and my brothers. He spent hours with all of us in preparing for depositions and he hired top notch experts, all of which contributed to an incredible settlement before trial. I know that he is dedicated to his cases and particularly to the people he works for and the people who work with him. He continues to be generous in contributing annually to my mother’s memory and to make known to the public the signs and symptoms of brain tumors.” V.S.
“My dad was ignored and mistreated at the nursing home that we placed him in. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we made a big mistake, particularly after my dad developed these terrible bedsores. We transferred him as we were contacting Mr. Kreisman. He was referred to us by a lawyer we have known for a long time and respect his opinion. Mr. Kreisman and his staff worked tirelessly to resolve this case. We were fortunate to have his services and will recommend him to anyone.” T.J.