OSHA's new slip and fall rules might have escaped many employers
- Newsday reports that many employers don't know about the new standards that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued last year. OSHA updated its Walking-Working Surfaces safety standards, which it says will prevent myriad fatalities and the more than 5,000 injuries that occur annually.
- The new guidelines require employers to conduct regular inspections of every surface in the workplace on which people work and walk, including stairs, floors, ladders and other areas. The purpose is to identify trip, slip and fall hazards. The updated standards bring workplace requirements in line with those of the construction industry.
- Newsday says employers have been slow to comply with OSHA's updated standards, which became effective in January. By May 17, most employers were expected to have trained employees who use fall-protection equipment and systems.
Employers must stay up to date on OSHA regulations. Regular inspections are crucial to minimizing workplace injuries and fatalities. If employers don't take the lead in securing a safe environment, employees will. They're most likely to spot hazards that can cause injuries and death, and they can freely report to OSHA any problems managers and supervisors choose to ignore.
According to OSHA, the updated standards allow employees flexibility in deciding the best way they can minimize safety hazards. Removing the mandatory installation of guardrails is an example of a rule change.
The costs of ignoring safety hazards are steep. Besides OSHA citations for safety violations, there are workers' compensation costs to consider and possible threats of lawsuits stemming from injuries or deaths. OSHA's site offers employers help with compliance, including a fact sheet and information on training.