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OSHA fall protection standards for iron workers

Iron workers in New Jersey and around the country are subject to special protections imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The fall protection standards promulgated by OSHA are extremely robust and cover an enormous variety of situations that these workers may encounter in their daily labor.

The standards provide that every worker who is working 15 feet or more above a lower level must have some level of falling protection. These protections range from the stationary and permanent, such as guard rails, to the temporary and expedient, such as harnesses and personal fall arrest systems. Safety nets and positioning device systems are also required, and the specific circumstances under which all these systems must be deployed are explicitly detailed as well.

There are also provisions requiring specific physical properties for the restraint system. For example, the safety systems must be at least twice as strong as they would need to be to stop an employee from falling. When one considers the complexity of the work space in which many iron workers spend their work day, it is easy to see that many safety systems must be designed in stages and installed with a great deal of redundancy.

A failure by an employer to maintain a workplace free of hazards may lead to a lawsuit in the event of a resulting workplace injury to an employee. Although the injured victim may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits, the employee may be able in some cases to obtain a larger financial reward by filing a civil suit against a negligent or reckless employer. An attorney may be able to help the employee determine which path should be followed.

Source: OH&S Online, "Fall Protection for Iron Workers", Marty Sharp, July 1, 2015

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